Monday, 19 October 2015

Summer's End, Olympic Park

Before all traces of summer disappear, please let me share with you some photos of the new Olympic Park in East London. If you can get there one sunny day, it's a good time of year to see it now.  I wrote here and here about the Olympics when they were on, in 2012, and there was some very cool public involvement - but the best bit is that the site was always going to be used for public benefit, and it was really exciting to visit and see how far on they've got.

Rather than me listing everything, take a look here here to see some of what's on offer.  Not surprisingly, the place is already really popular, and no wonder,  For me, the most eye popping thing was the landscaping. New parks can be bare, but they'd used millions of plants that either grow wild here or will naturalise, like these California poppies. The family below had obviously chosen their picnic site carefully.



It was fantastic to wander along the paths and take a closer look.



The area, near Hackney Wick station, is regenerating and is very arty and cool. I could see that some of the locals had come out to play






The bridges, walkways and general layout are designed to look interesting from all angles. As the park is very new it has some corners that are full of strange reflections and angles, although I think when the plants grow up it could also acquire a more fantastical air. .






The aquatics centre is my favourite building - I met an old lady who said she comes here swimming almost every day.   It's designed by Zaha Hadid  (for more views click on the link). Hadid is one of Britain's foremost architects and a feisty woman indeed - I wonder if you heard her tearing a strip of the interviewer in BBC Radio 4's Today programme recently? The building is as bold as you'd expect and is clad partly in grass, reminding me from some angles of the Teletubbies' bunker, (though I daresay that wasn't part of the concept).  I loved the aqua blue glass in this huge window.



This curious place below is actually an orchard in honour of paralympic athletes. The Games pushed paralympic sport well and truly into the public eye.  Each of those fruit trees is dedicated to a paralympic sportsperson, and I like that symbolism. As for the brick columns, I don't know what they mean....


...but kids thought them useful for hide and seek



I'd have loved this place as a kid. Not only is there a playground with lots of interesting equipment, but there is also a child sized climbing wall.


and the Orbit, a giant artwork by Anish Kapoor, is to get an enormous slide, currently being designed by trendy architects Bblur.   At present this intriguing sculpture is used for abseiling, and hopefully that will continue once the slide is built.



I was particularly fascinated by the huge mirror letters outside the Copper Box Arena, on the edge of the park.   Not only did they reflect themselves, they reflected all the other letters too, multiplying the reflections.  (look at the sky reflects in the "N" below)    It is quite disorientating, and won't be the ideal place to be after a few drinks, I'd say.










It was a fantastic cycle ride along the canal to get there from our place, and the area around the park has many extraordinary things to see.   Bike is the ideal way to explore it.  

63 comments:

  1. What a great park, with many interesting sculptural elements. Best of all I love the mirror letters, which are fabulous. Love the pic of the family picnic with the red poppies. Looks like Monet!

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  2. It all looks great. Love those poppies too. I wish I could see it for myself but I'm afraid our travelling time is at an end. Sad!

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    1. I am sorry to hear that Valerie. I would think it is like most parks a better place to visit in the summer though.

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  3. Even if I was younger, I don't think I would ever want to slide down that orbit. It is very interesting to look at though.

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    1. I don't know why they didn't put a slide on it in the first place. It would definitely be one like they have at funfairs though where you have a little mat. Perhaps I would not like it now although I was quite a fan of slides at one time!

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  4. What an amazing park. I can imagine locals really enjoy it. Smiled to see "our" California poppies growing there.

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    1. And they do make a beautiful show all together, as you know.

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  5. I'm surprised my son-in- law has not been over to have a go at the Orbit.

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  6. Looks like quite an interesting park.

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  7. How cool! I enjoyed looking through your photos at this amazing, picturesque place. I haven't been to England in 15 years but hope to go back and when I do this is on my list. Btw, are those columns the kids are hiding behind supposed to be giant pencils? I immediately thought of them when I saw the yellow, silver, and red delineations.

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    1. I'm really not sure what they are supposed to be. I was baffled, to be honest. I don't THINK they are pencils.... maybe I should try a bit harder to discover what the symbolism is!

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  8. Those mirrored letters are fascinating. I'd love to spend a while walking around them from every angle Without having had a few drinks, of course! I can see how disorientating they are. They offer plenty of opportunity for quite interesting photographs too.

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  9. Lovely park. Yes, the large mirrored letters might be a bit disorienting after a few pints--LOL! ;)

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  10. A great place indeed, and although its newness makes for some interesting features, I am sure it will be even better once all the plants have had more time to grow.
    It must have been a very warm day, with that lady wearing only little more fabric than a bikini ;-)

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  11. This looks wonderful - good to know something this lovely has come out of the Olympics (we are still waiting for any evidence of improved sports facilities for young people ... )

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  12. Hi Jenny,

    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. Great photo's of Olympic park. They make me realise it's been ages since I visited London last.....

    Have a good week!

    Madelief x

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    1. Thanks for visiting! I hope you get back to London soon.

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  13. Wow I had no idea it was so attractive and your photos are brilliant. My partner went to the Olympics several times whilst it was on, including the opening and closing ceremonies but I was so not so fortunate. Maybe I should try and get there myself.

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  14. Lovely and fascinating! How nice that the area wasn't left to simply fall into disuse after the Games were over.

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  15. What a great place.Nice to see it isn't a derelict site like a lot of Olympic sites.
    I loved the Barcelona Olympic pool & it's amazing view but sadly it's only open a couple of months in summer. What a waste! Nice to see that beautiful London Aquatic Centre being so well used.

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  16. I love how your pictures always manage to capture the true beauty of where ever you happen to be.

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  17. My God! I'd have to run past those huge mirrors at a faster speed than I already run past my bathroom mirror! Every time I look in my mirror (and I try not to do it too often) I see a stranger looking back at me. I wish she'd leave...just go away. I don't recognise her!! :)

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    1. You know the answer, Lee. Big mirror letters in your bathroom! I'd personally arrange mine to give a good view of the toothbrushes :)

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  18. Oh what an interesting place this looks like! And I can see why it might be just a bit confusing looking at the reflections in the letter.

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  19. All the photos are wonderful.
    So great to see everything is growing so nicely.
    I wonder if the columns by the trees are lights.
    My only problem is I hope the people sitting in the poppies are not sitting on the poppies ! As it looks they they are.
    How wonderful that you can visit this exciting park again.

    cheers, parsnip

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  20. So many Olympic venues become ghost towns once the flame is extinguished. It's nice to see this one being put to good use.

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  21. What a fantastic and unique park. It certainly doesn't have a new sterile look - - it appears to be very well-established. I haven't seen California poppies since I lived in Calif. The first photo looks like a nice, scenic place to have a picnic.

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  22. Jenny, on my most recent photo blog post (cemeteries) you asked about the photo of the lady at the bottom of the stairs. I couldn't find out where it is located, but I did discover that it was created by an American Sculptor & poet named William Wetmore Story (1819-1895).
    Since he and his wife lived in Italy and are both buried in Rome, I'm assuming that the Angel by the stairs is in Italy.

    He did create a lot of sculptures here in the U.S. but somehow this particular one looks more foreign to me.

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    1. Oh, thank you Jon. I am sorry it is not in London, otherwise I'd definitely visit. It is the kind of piece to look at on a misty autumn evening, isn' t it?

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  23. Wonderful pictures, Jenny! I have not been to the Olympic park but I hope to see it next time. I especially love poppies, wild flowers and mirror letters -- they are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Hey, now we are immersed in this fall that we sometimes passes through water is a joy to see the sunshine in this beautiful park that show us. Delightful entry my dear friend. A hug and good week for you.

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  25. Wow! Jenny, it looks fabulous! What a special place to have in London!

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  26. What a fantastic place. I think I like the naturalized areas best. Those swathes of poppies are glorious, and reminded me of Renoir's Poppy Field.

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  27. Wow, so pretty. I love this time of year. Even with a few snowflakes tossed in. Not today though. Today, it's nothing but sunshine and falling leaves.

    PS: Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  28. The place looks almost deserted. Did you purposely only publish pictures that did not have many people in them, or were there really not all that many people around?

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    1. Well, it depends. . Sometimes the people ARE the picture. Other times, it is easier to see what is there, without people. On the whole I try not to have too many identifiable people in the photos. I usually ask permission if I'm snapping someone specifically but you can't ask everyone in a crowd.

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    2. The spaces there are big and wide, it was designed to cater for tens of thousands of fans, after all. So although there were a LOT of people,they were concentrated in certain areas, and in other parts, there were quite large areas without crowds.

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  29. Sad that I left London before the Olympic Park was built, I'd love to have a good look round it. So many interesting buildings and features. The mirror letters remind me of Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago and all its weird reflections. I see the letters are by Monica Bonvicini, someone I'm not familiar with.

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    1. Me neither, but they're a great idea. I have now got to go and look up Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate, although his stuff is on such a huge scale that pictures can't really give a great idea.

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  30. I'm already missing summer and we're hardly into fall.

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  31. I look at all your photos and can't help thinking, how nice it is to run there. :)

    And abseil too!

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    1. Yes, plenty of space, it would be an interesting place to run. and appropriate! :)

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  32. Thanks for sharing this. I must go really. It's not too far. We went to the Olympics and paid (stupid money) to go up the Orbit. It did seem to need more about it, especially for the price. It was good up there, just too expensive. Glad it's going to have a slide.

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  33. How interesting to see the area settling down and providing all sorts of experiences. If I visit London again I must come and have a look. But then, you make everywhere look interesting, and when I read your blog I always want to go there.

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  34. The Olympic Park is maturing into a wonderful oasis for that area of London - I would love to make a visit there myself some time.

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  35. Wonderful pictures, I should go check out the place sometime. Greetings!

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  36. Olympic facilities tend to become a white elephant if not planned carefully for future sustainable use but London Olympic Park looks successful containing such interesting facilities. It is the place I’d love to visit as a family trip. I heard the name Zaha Hadid for the first time when her design for Tokyo 2020 Olympics main stadium was reconsidered and canceled for soaring costs. Her design is unique and bold, indeed.

    Yoko

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    1. She is such an interesting architect. For many years, I seem to remember that NONE of her designs were ever built. I used to wonder how she could become a famous architect in that case. But now I see that people liked the concepts.

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  37. Ah, memories, memories, memories! :-) beautiful photos you have posted here which remind me of my bike ride from the Olympic Park, down the Hertford Union Canal, past Victoria Park in Hackney to Islington. You're right about the Park having a lot of character. You seem to have had a better weather than me when you took your pictures! :-) All I had was a grim, although warm day. I even had my packed lunch in Victoria Park before cycling on. I love the area surrounding the Olympic Park, even if some of the locals told me that the little, independent shops were forced to close down to make way for the Olympic Park and the rest of the regeneration programme.

    Lovely post. Thanks.

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    1. I'm not sure if I have cycled down the Hertford Union Canal - I think it joins the Lee Navigation somewhere around the park, doesn't it? Victoria park now has a very good Indian cafe - I mean it doesn't just sell Indian food but it's essentially based on that, but all kinds of reasonably priced snacks and I thought rather interesting. I cycle fairly often from Camden to Victoria Park and every time I do, there;s something more to see. YOu might find the same about the Hertford canal, specially if you are lucky enough to enjoy a sunnier day!

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  38. Blogger ate my comment, your photos are beautiful. I would love to see London again. Thanks for your visit to my blog. I've got some catching up to do.

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  39. What lovely photographs. The definition of a great travel writer is someone who makes you want to jump on a train immediately and visit wherever they have been writing about. I am checking train times from Huddersfield to London right now.

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    1. Maybe wait till next summer now the weather has turned :) but it's interesting to see how they're creating something that works.

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  40. I think England does parks better than almost anyone and this is no exception. Really beautiful -- hard to believe it is so new. You're right about the landscaping! Great photos, Jenny. You show it off so well!

    A funny Hadid story -- she designed the Broad art museum here in our town. An extremely controversial building. I hate it. Looks like aliens landed, although in a different location (not by the ivy covered halls) it would be more striking. Bad context. But the inside works. The spaceship look -- not so much. Seeing your photo I can see the similarities in design!

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    1. Yes, Jeanie, and I have just noticed that the stadium she is designing for TOkyo 2020 has been scrapped. They say it is a cost overrun but it seems to have taken her studio by surprise. From the radio interview, she did not sound like someone who would brook disagreement very easily.

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  41. These structures are totally amazing.

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  42. I've never been to the Olympic Park but the pictures are fantastic.

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  43. Love the poppies and the wildflowers. This place looks amazing. I'll have to put it on my list of things to do when I'm in London!

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  44. Oh! Now I've another destination for my 'bucket list.'
    Truly, I had no idea this park existed; I'm so thankful you've shared these sublime images!

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    1. I'd vaguely heard they were going to make the place into a park but hadn't actually been. It was word of mouth, people had gone to see and reported back well so we went to see for ourselves. It made a nice destination for a bike ride.

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