With the London 2012 Olympics over and the Paralympics getting ready to take over the Great Britain spotlight, Londoners are starting to look at what will be left behind in their city once this momentous summer comes to a close.
Starting with Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee in June and running through the upcoming Paralympics, London has seen its busiest stretch of rebuilding literally since Churchill led the re-creation of the British capital following World War II. Obviously, the Summer Olympics dominated that British-centric stretch of world affairs – making certain London would never be the same.
The biggest change to London’s landscape must be the Olympic Park. While many city athletics venues are being dismantled now – like the Beach Volleyball pit at the Horse Parades Grounds off Whitehall. But the massive Park with its landmark Olympic Stadium will remain standing – not just as a salute to the Games and their impressive Opening Ceremonies, but as a new center for residences, retail and recreation.
The neighborhood replacing the Park will be called East Village London and will wear the new postal code of E20.
The current Olympic Park that reinvented the East London neighborhood of Stratford was a wonder of modern engineering. It took 10 architects to complete the Park’s design. At 246 hectares, the Park is large enough to encompass 357 football fields. It took 700 million manpower hours by more than 30,000 construction professionals and engineers to complete it.
In keeping with the 21st century Olympic ideal of sustainable design, 2 million tons of dirt used in forging and landscaping the site had to be cleansed of all detected pollutants before so much as a rivet could be screwed in place. And portions of the building materials removed from the site were transported and recycled in a repair of the M25 motorway.
Now that the Summer Olympics moved on to Brazil, thousands of dwellings in 11 separate building developments will be built on the Park grounds and finished by 2013. A new school (Chobham Academy) will open with those homes to serve 1,800 students. A new health center will offer 60 different health services.
Just to add a little style to the new neighborhood, East Village will feature an orchard marked by more than 3,000 trees and herb gardens for locals to nurture and enjoy. By 2013, London’s third largest park – the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – will also be the largest park built in Europe in more than 150 years.
While tents and temporary seating will disappear, the Olympic Stadium will remain in place amidst the middle of East Village London. The home to the stirring Opening Ceremonies, the Olympic Stadium seats 80,000, but it’s designed to transform as needed down to a smaller capacity venue after the Olympics thanks to 55,000 lightweight, removable seats. The Velodrome (former HQ for the London Games’ indoor cycling events) is affectionately called The Pringle for its familiar, chippy roof shape and will also remain in place.
In short, once lowly Stratford in once ignored East London will soon become a hip and happening neighborhood that can stand as a final salute to the evolution brought to London by the 2012 Summer Games.