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From wasteland to theatre of dreams – London’s Olympic Park in Stratford

After the London 2012 team won the bid to host the Olympics in 2005, plans were put in place to redevelop vast expanses of urban wasteland in the east of London to host the summer games.

An expectant audience got its first look at the newly regenerated park in Stratford on 27th July, when the opening ceremony drew the world’s gaze. An estimated four billion people watched Danny Boyle’s opening extravaganza, culminating in a spectacular firework display along the Thames.

But what’s on the Olympic Park? And what will happen to it after the closure of the Games of the 30th Olympiad have closed? Those questions and others have been posed time and again over the build-up to the Olympics.

The Olympic Park

The 200-hectare site, located on a former brownfield industrial area in the East End of London, is home to a number of the Olympic venues that you will have seen on the television during the course of the games.

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An aerial view of the Olympic Park in April 2012.

A number of sports venues have been built on the site, including the Olympic Stadium that played its part in the opening ceremony and is now hosting the athletics. In addition to the stadium, the site has the London Aquatic Arena where the swimming competitions were held, the London Velopark in which Brits found so much gold medal success and the intriguingly named Copper Box, where fencing and handball competitions were staged.

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The aerial views of the Olympic Park show the scale of the construction and the landscaping of former wasteland areas

The aerial views of the Olympic Park show the scale of the construction and the landscaping of former wasteland areas

Source: Between the sporting venues, architects and landscape artists have created a beautiful park for visitors and sports fans to enjoy. The giant electricity pylons that previously dominated the skyline have been removed and replaced with open spaces and neatly arranged communal areas where people can soak up the Olympic atmosphere.

The Olympic Legacy

Part of the plans for bringing the Olympics to London was to ensure a lasting legacy for the population of East London through increased visitors to the area and opportunities to participate in sport.

After the games are over, six of the sporting venues on the park will be opened for local sports teams and clubs to make use of the world-class facilities.

A new addition to the area will be the opening of a new university, created to capitalise on the sporting facilities and communication infrastructure that were put in place to support the Olympic Games. Offering courses in sports science and communication technology, the university is proposing collaboration with the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

The proposed university will also offer courses in ecological science, and in addition to the sporting and communications legacy the Olympic Park will be turned into a wildlife reserve. The largest new urban park in Europe created for over 150 years, the park will continue to grow and thrive long after the Olympic flame has been passed to Rio de Janeiro.

The fate of the Olympic Stadium still hangs in the balance as a number of football clubs based elsewhere in London are in negotiation to take it on after the games are finished. Whatever happens, there will be a use for the majestic venue once the Olympics is finished.

Conclusion

From the air, the Olympic Park is a breathtaking sight, take a ride on The London Helicopter to see the site in its full magnificence. The site, which has redeveloped some of the most unattractive disused land in London has become a place of beauty that generations of Londoners and visitors to the city can treasure.

Image Source: Wikipedia 1 & 2.