Okay. Great. So I’m very quickly, in ten minutes, going to talk about the Olympic Park. I’m the Chief Executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. We are responsible for the legacy after Games to take on what’s been built by the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is an amazing piece of city being constructed right now, and to take that forward for the next hundred years or however long it is.
But, so I’m going to talk about how design is a part of everything that’s happening at the Olympic Park and I think you could actually say that the very, at the city design macro level, that the siting of the park itself was an act of great design because it was situated in Stratford, it was picked. The bid was very much about design, it was about creating a piece of city, about the movement of London East and importantly, centred on Stratford and the transport centre and all the people who’ve been working on Stratford and to create Stratford Centre, who saw the opportunity…
I don’t know if he’s here but Stuart Lipton and others who saw this many, many years ago understood that this was going to be a focal point of London’s growth and the interesting thing, I think, about what’s unique about the Olympic Park is the fact that it is the meeting of the city and the wilderness and a very natural environment. And you can imagine that in the heart of a global city, ten minutes from… 15 minutes from here, literally, you can get there.
But you’re sitting at this incredible junction between the city and nature because of the 26-mile corridor of the Lea valley leading from the Thames and all the way up to Hertfordshire, which I’ve now tried to learn how to pronounce correctly. So it’s an incredible place and it is a coming together of city and nature and the Olympic Park and the site and the park itself and the waterways, the six kilometre of waterways that traverse it that give it such an incredible unique design, a unique urban form and, in a sense, maybe I can say this, coming from, you know, outside of London, is really the very qualities that make London such an urban, sustainable and, frankly, wonderful city. It is that sense of the park, the sense of the water and the sense of an urban form coming together which is what the promise of the Olympic Park is.
These are some… Any one of these, you could go into some detail but these are really about how the River Lea landscape coming through the site carried through today. This is, you can see the park, actually. The parklands opened last week. ODA opened them, extraordinary parklands designed by the George Hargreaves and LDA here, London, incredible park.
There’s the central spine and the canals and the waterways that are at the heart of it so what you’re seeing right now, in the space of five, you know, years or will be seven years when it opens from bid, successful bid to today, is sort of a building of city on steroids. It is an extraordinary thing that’s happening. The built inheritance from the games, the venues, whether temporary such as basketball, to the velo, which is extraordinary, to the stadium to the Olympic athletes’ village, which will be housing in legacy, is literally, you know, kind of a city rising.
And the fact that you do have the private development, Westfield, opening in the autumn shows you this kind of coming together of a huge building of the city. So this is just a sense of some of the notion that’s been clearer to you but to show location of how these venues become landmarks, how we utilise those to organise space, the views, the corridors, the way that each of these venues become, in a sense, anchors for different pieces of the site because it is a big site.
It’s, we’re looking at over 500 acres in total, what’ll be 20 million-plus square feet so 40,000 people could be living here over time so it’s an extraordinary sort of community coming together. And how we use the venues, the waterways, the park edges to give this a sense of definition, a sense of identity, so a whole masterplan that really comes together around essentially taking the Stratford transport centre here, building off of that incredible network with nine lines that come through it, bringing you into the core of the park and trying to get those very qualities of London, trying to get the edge of the park, bringing in housing right along that part so you create a sense of intimacy and scale and you have the sort of great urban parks in London whether it’s Victoria Park, Regent’s Park.
This is the size of St. James’ Park in the North but the urban edge, bringing it close in, the parkland, the waterways coming through, five neighbourhoods built around that part up to 8,000 units and building it in typology, when we first looked at this, that can be more about what London’s about. Me and Paul and I [?] have had many discussions about this but bringing back the mix of densities from the terraced housing to higher density around transport but that mix of the feel of the city that evolves over time, that builds on the character very much of London.
So this just gives you a sense of the whole place; Westfield here, athletes’ village to the North, below North to South but it is coming together, a piece of city. And the challenge is how to make sure that we use all of these assets and with a piece, a city that’s going to evolve over time. It’s not going to be built, you know, today, tomorrow. This, you have to look at the long term, how we balance what’s been given us in terms of the overall context of this site with, of course, what needs to happen in terms of innovation, in terms of change, and set that right balance between design guidelines, design standards and what gets built.
So I think, in the sort of few minutes I have, I just want to give you one, just a bit of a sense of the site because if you haven’t been there, you should; the only way to really understand this and see what’s happening is to go out there. But you have essentially a park that is often thought of as one but really is two different things. You have a North park, more pastoral, quieter, really much more of a river valley than a traditional park. That’s in the North, which has just opened.
And the South, which is going to be a much more – this is the North park, the sense of a vision of that North park and how we’ll open it out to the river, trying to make use of that and the typography that’s being built, and the South park, a very vital urban place and I think that’s what’s interesting from a design standpoint in the site, is how to create those contradictions, how to create, actually celebrate those, celebrate the diversity of this. You’re not trying to homogenise it, you’re not trying to make it all one thing.
So even when we talk about Olympic Park, it’s about celebrating different qualities; a quality of the North, which can be an environment like this, you know, beautiful, celebrate the river, and then just walk down a pathway and you come to… This is the aquatics centre designed by Zaha Hadid. Over here will be Stratford transport, Stratford centre. Come over here. The orbit, Anish Kapur, which’ll be designed by Anish Kapur, which will be at about 135 metres, the stadium.
And so using this space between as a great urban central plaza, giving it life, giving it activity, giving it more structures, more enclosure but it is the sense of, a little sense of the drama and the theatre of this as your first impression coming over that bridge, the 70% of people, you know, coming from games, using that during games and then the legacy. And you come over and there’s the a-ha moment and it’s about a great urban place, about active activity and energy.
So the design of this, you know, matters a great deal. The programming of this matters a great deal and celebrating, I think, a diversity of different kinds of uses and activities is what will ultimately make this site successful. Around that, we want to build great neighbourhoods. Of course, you can go back in London history and look at things like the Abercrombie plan and, you know, that celebrated London in the sense of villages so that character of these areas, a sense of scale, a sense of density, building on the notion, very much, of what are London’s great estates?
Now, does that say…? Does the yellow mean five, two or one? One! Okay.
I think, three.
Three. So here it is. So, but the notion of the great estates… I mean, you know, again, maybe because I come in, American from the outside, and seen the way London’s evolved and the estates that were built in prior centuries that gave that sense of quality, of urban form and life. This is what the Government and what you all, we all have invested in to make this happen and let’s build on that tradition, which means that design matters and quality matters, the sense of, again, of scale and character.
I’m going to just flip through… these are… I should have had these rotating automatically but you can imagine the places you love, whether it’s Islington, whether it’s Camden; the neighbourhoods that really understand how to make use of the waterways. That’s just one for fun, which is the Eiffel Tower. And, Anish Kapur, if you were… just to see if you’re watching.
But I guess I’ll end on this, which is the aspiration’s tremendous, the city-building that’s happening’s tremendous, the initial decisions about where to put this site were far-sighted. I mean, any Olympic host city or any large-scale transformation of this being put in the right place was critical. It’s a part of London that’ll change the cognitive map, the mental map of London. East is not far. This is not far away, I’ll be back in my office by 1:15. This is really very, very close.
And we have to translate all of that tremendous – I say – inheritance, policy inheritance, physical inheritance from the ODA, all of that, and take that into the future which is our job. So translating that masterplan into a set of design guidelines, again, not trying to dictate style, not trying to say there’s only one architecture that matters, being flexible and resilient for the future but being able to do that in a way that sets out very clear, those building blocks, the foundation of urban form, you know.
So you have the blocks, getting the street and block type right, allowing for diversity of housing types, realizing contemporary London neighbourhood. And we’re producing these kinds of guidelines so that our relationship, if you take the great estate model, our relationship to work closely with developers, with their architects in building a piece of city is going to be very important. And those first neighbourhoods we build, setting the tone and the quality, are going to be fundamental, which is why doing this kind of design work so that from the large scale to the micro scale we’re really building something that, I think, takes advantage of this extraordinary, once in a generation opportunity.
So I didn’t get to go into a lot of detail on this but it’s the sense of how one moves through different scales that will matter and that the detail will make all the difference. And with that, I’ll conclude. Thank you.