Showing posts with label Olympic Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympic Park. Show all posts

Friday, 5 September 2014

What's Special about the ArcelorMittal Orbit?

For a start it's stunning to look at, either from up close or from a distance.  From the base it towers high into the sky.  From afar, the whirling curves seem a little weird, but cleverly intertwined.



With a height of 114.5 metres it is an imposing structure, and can be seen from many miles away.  From the top viewing levels you can see the various sporting venues of the adjoining Olympic Park, as well as distinctive buildings such as the Shard, BT Tower, the Gherkin, Canary Wharf, Big Ben, the O2 Arena, and the nearby cable car over the Thames.

To make it easy to take in the long-distance views, there are interactive screens using gigapixel technology.  These enable you to interpret the views, and learn the story of the ArcelorMittal Orbit.  You can zoom in on the panorama, and commentaries are given in various languages.

There is even more to come as you leave the top level viewing platforms.  As you descend the 455 steps to the ground, you will be immersed in found-sounds of the unique London soundscape.  This needs to be experienced in real time: a description here fails to replicate the experience.

At the base of the Orbit is the Podium, home to EastTwenty bar and kitchen.  Here you can order pastries, light lunches, sandwiches and snacks.  There is even a delightful range of cakes which are made daily on the premises from fresh produce.

Opening hours of the Orbit are 10am to 6pm (April to September), and 10am to 4pm (October to March).  Ticket prices are £15 for Adults, and £7 for Children.  There is a special Concession price of £12 for students and senior citizens.  You will find that the Orbit experience is certainly worth the cost.


Friday, 22 August 2014

Olympics 2012 Legacy - Extensive green Park in East London

These days it is considered crucially important that when a city is chosen to host the Olympic Games it is able to prove that the event will leave a valuable legacy.  This is certainly the case with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London where the athletics, swimming, cycling, and various other sports were staged.

Already around 3 million people have visited the park, at this stage mainly for recreational purposes.  Even though the main stadium won't be again open for public visitors until the Rugby World Cup in 2015 there are plenty of other venues to visit.

The Aquatics Centre has been open to the public for several months now, and anyone can go for a swim there for just a few pounds in cost.  You might even have the good luck to see Tom Daley practise his diving.  The Copper Box regularly hosts indoor sporting events such as basketball and handball.  There is a cafe as well.  And cyclists are taking advantage of all the facilities of the Velodrome, for cycling both indoors and outdoors on the mountain biking and BMX courses.

Next month the site will be hosting the Invictus Games with wounded, injured and disabled service men and women from 14 countries around the world competing.  Prince Harry is very much involved in this event, and I'm sure it will prove to be very popular.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is also open to the public, and from there you get excellent views of the surrounding park and stadium, as well as towards the City of London and Canary Wharf.

So if you are in London, either living here or visiting, it is certainly worth checking out all the attractions and features of the new Olympic Park.


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Boats Tours of London's Olympic Park Waterways



There have been plans for boat tours of the Olympics Park for a long time .. and now they have come to fruition.  You can see proof above, with a substantial passenger boat passing by the Aquatic Centre which had been used for the 2012 Olympics swimming and diving events.

For the most part the boats will be travelling up the Waterworks River, which extends from south of the Aquatics Centre, northwards to the Velodrome and on to the Broadcasting and Media Centre.  Sights along the way will include the Olympic Stadium, the Orbit, and Copper Box.

Both sides of the river are lined with a wide range of attractive greenery, with a particular feature being the reed beds.  These have encouraged occupation by a variety of birds including herons, coots and swans.  If you are lucky you might be able to spot a cormorant.

The boat tours last around 45 minutes, and run three to five times a day.  Cost for adults is £8, and children £4.  At present the tours are expected to run until the end of August, although I'm sure there will be some demand from passengers after that date.  It would be great if some boats could come up all the way from the Limehouse Basin, immediately adjacent to the Thames, as was originally planned.

These boat tours are another welcome addition to the range of activities available in London, and will help build visitor numbers to the city still further.  Apart from anything else, there will be plenty of excellent photograph opportunities, and friends and relatives are sure to be impressed by the images.





Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Further Developments at Olympic Park

The Olympic Park in Stratford, and the area around, are definitely on a roll!  There has just been a public launch to identify suitable designers for a cultural centre to be built at a cost of around £115 million.

The riverside site will create an Olympicopolis (the language is that of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London) with sections for a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Sadler's Wells theatre, and the Washington-based Smithsonian Institute.  

The design will require a team of architects, master planners, and engineers to create something brilliantly creating, stunningly visual, and yet still deliberately functional.

Nearby will be a new campus for University College, part of London University, which has an excellent academic reputation.  Also in the vicinity will be a range of modern offices for organisations such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and Transport for London which coordinates all the public transport within London.

It seems an ambitious project at this early stage.  There will be a 25,000 square meter exhibition space for the V&A, mainly concentrating on modern design for which the UK stands out.  The 650-seat theatre for Sadler's Wells will also be home for a choreography school and hip-hop academy.

We will have to wait to see what comes about, but this certainly promises to be a further addition to an even more valuable legacy of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Walking in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London

For any local London person, and visitors to London if they have the time, I would definitely recommend checking out the Olympic Park.

This was developed specially for the 2012 Olympics held in London.  Previously the area was mainly used for run-down, low quality, industry.  Part of the area was covered with railway sidings, used for the parking of suburban trains overnight.  Very few people would have even passed through there, unless delivering old car and truck tires for storage, or such like.

In the years leading up to the Olympics the area was completely transformed.  Low lying parts which were boggy and subject to flooding were raised up by massive piles of earth which had been excavated to build the Eurostar train line which was tunnelled directly underneath.

The Lee River and canals were thoroughly cleaned up, and extensive planting of lawns, shrubs and trees took place.  The park was one of the greatest attractions of the Olympics, with many visitors for events at the Stadium, Aquatic Centre, Copper Box, Velodrome, and so on.

A few months ago the park was reopened to the public, and I often wander around different parts.  There are lots of attractive plants, and an amazing variety of types.  There is even a wetlands area for plants which need ponds and damp soil to grow in.  There are extensive gravel paths running the length of the park, so it is easy enough to walk the length of the park, although you are perfectly welcome to wander around the grassy areas as well.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Olympic Park is the Orbit.  This towering curling structure, painted a rich red, overlooks all of the park, and there are good views towards the business hub City of London, as well as Canary Wharf.  And on the eastern side of the park there is the massive Westfield Shopping Centre, currently the largest urban shopping centre in Europe.

For visitors to London it is very easy to get to Stratford.  Probably most will use the Central or Jubilee underground train lines.  However there are also platforms at Stratford station for Dockland Light Railway and Overground trains.

There are sure to be further posting about the Olympic Park in the future, examining in greater detail particular features of this wonderful park.

This video will help to give you a better visual impression -




Thursday, 17 July 2014

London Olympics Park open to the Public

One of London's greatest features is the number of parks scattered around the city, some particularly large such as Hyde Park, Regent Park, Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath.  There are many smaller parks with loads of plant life and attractions.

Recently this collection has been joined by another green space, measuring around 200 hectares in all.  This park was specially regenerated for the 2012 Olympics from former industrial land in the Stratford area of East London.  After the Olympics were over, the park was closed to the public for around 18 months while various necessary modifications such as the removal of certain buildings and bridges could take place.

Now that it is open again, any visitor is treated to many delights.  For a start, the park is large and takes 15 to 20 minutes to walk from the northern end to the southern edge.  There is an extensive network of gravel paths, pleasingly lined with a broad selection of semi-mature trees.  The Lee River branches within the park so that two separate sections can be walked along.  There are also some canals so there is plenty of water to add a sense of tranquility.

Buildings remained from the Olympics include the main Stadium, the Aquatic Centre (where Tom Daley is often seen training), the Copper Box, and the Velodrome with various outdoor cycle tracks nearby along with a BMX circuit.

One of the most distinctive features is the Orbit, a stunning curved spiralling structure which is not easy to describe.  Fortunately you can get a good impression of its external appearance, and views from the top, in this video.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Legacy of London 2012 Olympics

When, at a special event in Singapore in 2005, London was chosen to stage the 2012 Olympics there was great excitement, indeed jubilation!

However many people had a negative attitude to the selection of London.  After all, the cost was going to be around £8 billion (something like $12 billion), and there are arguably much better ways of spending the money, such as on schools and hospitals.

Now, July and August 2012 have come and gone, and overall I think we can say that the Olympics were a great success.  Admittedly there were pre-event problems with insufficient people having been trained to maintain security, but fortunately the military forces could be called in at short notice to provide whatever services were required.  The Opening and Closing ceremonies for both the Olympics and Paralympics were both impressive, even if not on the scale of Beijing 2008.  And, surprise surprise, there was little rain.

A key aspect of the Olympics is not only the event itself, but the Legacy.  In the past a lot of money has been spent building expensive structures for the Olympics which get very little use afterwards: probably the best example of this is Athens in 2004.  However extensive planning for the London Olympics ensured that as much as possible could be retained after the event which has definite value for local people.

For example, the Olympics Stadium is currently being reduced in spectator capacity so that it can be used by West Ham football team after 2016, and also used for athletic events in the summers.  The Aquatic Centre, complete with two 50 metre pools, and a separate diving pool, is already very popular with people from the surrounding area, particularly Stratford.  The Velodrome has been reopened, and is being used for both indoor and outdoor training and competitive events.  The Copper Box is used for a wide variety of indoor events, including basket ball and netball.  And the spectacular spiralling Orbit is offering visitors amazing views of London, as well as the surrounding Olympic Park.

And, apart from anything else, the Olympics has helped to revitalise London.  It has attracted more visitors to London, and probably encouraged greater investments in London from overseas companies.  And it has helped to prove that there is no better place in the world in which to stage major sports events.



Monday, 7 July 2014

Tour de France into London - post race

On the whole, day 3 of this years Tour de France went smoothly enough, despite some spectators standing too close to the path of cyclists with temporary disruption a few times.

The third stage began in the picturesque location of Cambridge, with lots of imposing stone university colleges on view.  Good progress was made through the attractive sun-lit countryside of Essex before the riders entered the outskirts of London.

Very quickly the riders were entering the northern part of Olympic Park, then speeding down roads past the Velodrome, Copper Box, Aquatic Centre, Olympic Stadium, and the iconic red Orbit tower.

From there it was through residential suburbs to the Royal Docks, past City Airport, alongside Canary Wharf where a DLR train had been specially painted with the message 'Va Va Froome', then Tower Bridge and Tower of London, through the southern edge of the City of London, with the Thames on the left hand side, round the corner at Parliament House, up to Buckingham Palace, making one last turn, and then the final sprint up the Mall where the German ride Kittel managed to win a stage for the second time in three days.

The days events went very well, and the few days that the race was run in England turned out to be very successful.  From London's perspective, the main disappointment was the weather.  Earlier in the afternoon it had been pleasantly sunny, but by the time the cyclists hit London there was a drizzle of rain, and the sky was grey and grim.

From the helicopter where were shots of many recognisable landmarks, with excellent views into the grounds of the Tower of London, but the sights would have been more attractive to potential visitors to London if the weather had been sunnier.

Hopefully many people watching the race unfolding on tv screens around the world will have been surprised to see how beautiful much of the English countryside is, and how stunning so many of the historic and modern buildings in central London, not to mention the extensive green parks.

When will the Tour de France next have stages in neighbouring England?  We want you back!