Showing posts with label Stratford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stratford. 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.


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

London 2012 Olympics - Legacy Developments at Stratford Site

These days the legacy that the Olympics will leave behind after the event is very important.  Indeed the relevance of useful legacy is one of the key considerations that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) uses when choosing the cities to stage the Olympics in coming years.

There can be no doubt that London has scored highly on this criteria, with the most obvious post-Olympics uses to be seen at the main Olympics site in Stratford.

Some of the sporting structures such as the Basketball arena and the Water Polo facilities have already been removed.  Also the large side 'wings' of the Aquatic Centre, capable of holding 16,000 spectators to view the swimming and diving events, have been removed.  The Aquatic Centre can still seat around 2,000 spectators for periodic events, and the two Olympic-size swimming pools are very much valued by both local people and champion swimmers who train there.

The main Olympic Stadium, where the Opening and Closing ceremonies and most of the athletics events were stated, remains.  For it to better serve future requirements the seating capacity has been reduced from 80,000 to 60,000 and it will soon be the home ground for West Ham football club which is relocating from Upton Park, a few miles away.

The Copper Box is again available for a variety of indoor sporting events, and is particularly popular with basketball players.  The Orbit, that red curving metal structure which towers over the Stadium, is now one of London's key landmarks and a must-see for many visitors to London.

The Olympic Park is a much valued addition to East London, and it is very pleasant to walk along the canal-side paths.  There is an amazing range of plants to see, and everything possible is being done to encourage wild-life to live there.

The Press and Broadcasting Centre is being turned into an i-City, with digital businesses in particular being encouraged to base their business there.  Already British Telecom (BT) Sport has taken over part of the Broadcasting Centre and is using this for the online transmission of football game coverage.  Loughborough University is setting up its Business School there, and I have no doubt that within a couple of years the one million square feet of office and studio space will be fully occupied.

Lastly the Athletes Village has been turned into valuable residences for the local community, and already many hundreds of people have taken up the opportunity to live in such a unique location.  There they have the Olympic Park virtually on their door steps, the enormous Westfield Shopping Centre is just a short walk away, and the area is very well connected for public transport.

All in all the Olympics have left a wonderful legacy for London, the 2012 host city, and I'm sure the Games will be appreciated long into the future.

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.