September 17 2014 Latest news:
Freddy Mayhew, Reporter
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Arguably London 2012’s biggest star — the Olympic Park itself — is finally ready to play host to the public once again.
Almost unrecognisable since the Games, the south of the 560-acre Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which was the focus of the action during the Olympics and Paralympics, has been transformed over 18 months at a cost of £300 million pounds.
Giant temporary venues such as the Basketball Arena, catering tents and even bridges have been taken down and replaced with manicured lawns, a play area, an amphitheatre and even a climbing wall — to name but a few.
The north of the park has been in use for a year already but its more iconic south side stands relatively empty, save the flourescent-jacketed workforce striving to ready it in time for the opening on April 5.
Dr Philip Askew, project leader for parklands and public realm, has said that once open it will do more to boost east London and its imminent surroundings than nearby Canary Wharf.
“It’s a place for people and a place for London. It’s very much part of the community,” he said.
“One of the reasons for putting a great park here is to encourage business, employment and house building, but also give people great opportunities for recreation.
“It takes the Victorian values of park building, which were about simulating building and improving public health and quality of life, and brings it up to date.”
The park has been designed by acclaimed landscape architect James Corner, who created New York City’s famous High Line attraction, with an emphasis on using robust materials.
It has no gates, meaning it is always open, and will be lit up at night while visitors take their coffees at the Podium Cafe or write their names in the timber wall using its moveable square blocks.
Close to the stadium — which won’t open until 2016 — a section of the park’s 6.5km of waterway has been earmarked as an area to rival London’s Southbank with Dr Askew stating the aim is to create a “really vibrant place”.
A giant lawn in the south-east of the park which can fit 20,000 people on it will be used for occasional large-scale events and day-to-day relaxing and playing in the sun.
“It’s going to be a place which offers something for everybody,” said Dr Askew.
All it needs now are the people.
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