diamond geezer

 Saturday, April 06, 2024

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is 10 years old this weekend. A chunk of the North Park opened more quickly in the summer after the Games but the rest was only fully revealed on 5th April 2014, including all the good stuff round the Stadium. This was the moment that created a recreational powerhouse linking together the two sides of the Lower Lea Valley and signalled that promises of post-Olympic legacy weren't a dream. Nobody turned up to cut a ribbon, they merely drew back the barriers and allowed a procession of schoolchildren and drummers and then all the rest of us inside.



I wrote five posts about the opening, because of course I did, and also uploaded 100 photos of the pristine parkland to Flickr. It's fascinating to look back with hindsight and see what now sounds wildly optimistic and what merely commonplace.

The biggest concern 10 years ago was whether anyone would carry on visiting the park after the initial buzz died down, and of course they have. People continue to make a special effort to visit and enjoy, plus it helps that thousands now live here or hereabouts so are forever crossing the park. I'm still enormously chuffed to have this honeypot on my doorstep, even if I don't drop in as often as I did during lockdown. But not everything that was in situ in 2014 has been a roaring success, so here are some of the hits and misses one decade on.

QEOP hits
The parkland remains #1, a landscaped treat worthy of many a safari.
The playgrounds were very well designed and still attract loads of families.
The stadium, although never meant for football, remains a buzzy focal point.
The gushing fountains don't gush as often as they did, but still delight when they do.
Refreshment options, from the Podium to the Timber Lodge (now Brew Street), are still in business.

QEOP misses
The Orbit had high hopes of being a top visitor attraction but few were interested, even when they added a big slide.
The VeloPark remains quieter than you'd expect, especially the mountain bike trail because a £7 charge stifles demand.
Nobody needs an Information Centre any more, everything's on their phone, so it's been sequentially sidelined and shrunk.
Carpenters Lock was beautifully restored but hardly ever opens so narrowboats don't get to spill into the Park proper.
QEOP's narrow waist, on Waterden Road, still very much divides the Park into awkwardly separate halves.



I went back yesterday for a proper wander and can confirm that the park and its surroundings continue to evolve. If you've not been recently, the two biggest changes since this time last year are undoubtedly East Wick and the East Bank.

East Wick is one of the five new Olympic neighbourhoods, and for years has been a relatively small canalside cluster between the Copper Box and Here East. This first phase is now so established that it has its own Tesco Express (est 2023), not to mention boxing gym, yoga studio, beauty salon and multiple coffee options. Also symbolic on the placemaking front is that the teensy barbershop at Hackney Bridge is now empty and a full-on groomery called Curfew has opened opposite for pre-booked punters only, no walk-ins, so an E20 haircut now costs £26 minimum. It looked packed out anyway.



But phase 2 is now well underway, so much so that residents of Forbes Lane no longer have a view of the Park from their front doorstep, only a wall of skeletal newbuilds. This is because East Wick is expanding, as always threatened, to cover quarter of a mile of former lawn. First they relocated the trees, then they added cranes and silos of concrete, and now multiple grey cuboids obstruct the margins, awaiting cladding that'll make it look like they were built painstakingly from brick. Depressingly only 21% of the 210 new homes will be rented and notionally affordable, and the remainder are for open sale to incomers who won't flinch at £40 for a skin fade and beard trim.



Meanwhile the East Bank is where the real action is as Boris's vision of Olympicopolis finally reaches fruition. All four buildings now have big lettering on the front to identify the tenant - the BBC's three were only affixed in the last few days. At the V&A's upcoming space invader the internal fitout is well underway while at Sadlers Wells East a balcony rail is being fitted and the promenade studios are shielded only by sheeting. Down at waterfront level multiple 'foodie hotspots' await occupiers with the vision to believe that Aquatics Walk might one day be busy. When this new stone-coated footbridge opens across Carpenters Road and the railway, shoppers may perhaps rush over from the back of Waitrose and discover culture on their doorstep.



But the true pioneer hereabouts is UAL's London College of Fashion which flung open its doors at the start of the academic year and has been the destination for hordes of well dressed students ever since. Best of all you don't have to be a signed-up lanyard dangler to go inside, anyone can wander in and let their tongue hang out at the swirling architecture. I checked at reception it was OK and it is, ditto the taking of photographs, so long as you stick to the lowest three storeys of the building and inform the occasional security guard it's OK because the ladies at reception said so. Wow.



It's all about the central "orange-peel" staircase which swirls down from the upper floors in a concrete whirl, in that special curvaceous manner that only architects with an expansive atrium to fill can manage. It's gorgeous, especially if you turn up out of term time and it's entirely student free, which would be my top visitor tip. They've done that thing where the lighting's hidden downwards in the handrail, which adds glowing contrast, and the complex visual geometry shifts with every step you take. Head up to Makers Square, which to me looked like an open plan area full of spaces to rest a laptop, or head down to the lower ground floor with its workshop areas and cycle storage. Camerawise obviously up beats down.



If you want an even better reason to visit then wait until Tuesday when a new exhibition opens entitled Making More Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain. It's not a showcase of student work but an external project curated by the Museum of British Folklore, and aims to question seasonal cultures and customs in the capital. Expect Doggett's Coat and Badge, Carnival costumes and Somali May Day traditions, amongst others, some in specific galleries and some in situ. It was all tantalisingly out of reach as I walked by, or not yet fully labelled, but I'll definitely be back to see it properly. In the meantime have another photo of the staircase, and another, and several more, because I somehow walked out of the building having taken 72 of them.



Ten years on, and a dozen after the Games proper, what a gift the Olympic Park has been. Come again, and come soon.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24  Jun24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jun24  May24
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv