On July 27th, the world will gather in England’s capital city for the 2012 Summer Olympics. If you’re lucky enough to be able to leave the comfort of your living room, you’ll be heading to the newly built Olympic Park in London’s east end where 2.5 square kilometres of land serve as Olympic headquarters. Overlooking the hub of activity will be the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a spiralling piece of art and observation tower. With the stadium alone costing an estimated £537 million, this year’s Games is set to be one of the summer’s greatest spectacles.
Building the park
After winning the Olympic bid in 2005, London developers got to work dreaming up a venue that would properly house athletes and fans during the 16 days of competition but would also be sustainable long after The Games were over. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was established in 2006 led by Sir John Armitt and Dennis Hone who worked with developers to build all the permanent new structures including the Athlete’s Village and Olympic Stadium, as well as enhance existing structures across Greater London and the country.
Surrounded by meadows, trees, flowers and wildlife, the grounds offer visitors a chance to explore not only the sporting facilities but also the various art and culture installations. Some notable pieces:
History Trees by Ackroyd & Harvey
Ten trees with large metal rings will mark the ten entrances to the Park. Each ring is engraved on the interior face with text capturing the history of the location.
RUN by Monica Bonvicini
Made of glass and stainless steel, three 9m-tall letters spell out ‘RUN’ in front of the the Copper Box. At night the letters will become more transparent and glow with internal LED lighting.
Fast, Faster, Fastest by Jason Bruges Studio
The interactive bridge leading up to the Olympic Stadium will be programmed to have lights that flash at the speed of the fastest 100-metre sprints. Visitors will be able to race against the speed of their favourite sporting heroes. For more info, click here
London 2012 Megastore
Londoners have never been ones to shy away from a little retail therapy. Support the Games by picking up some memorabilia at the 4,000 square metre space filled to the rafters with London 2012 licensed products from t-shirts to tea cups.
You can also shop online at: shop.london2012.com
Considered the “heart” of the park, the stadium will host both opening and closing ceremonies as well as some of the most iconic events of the Games – like old-school shot put! With a capacity for 80,000, this will be the hotbed of activity for most of the 17 days. Designed by Populous architecture firm, the stadium took 4 years to build and was meant to act as a pillar for sustainable building but has garnered more negative media attention for its high cost, simplistic design and the possibility of being located on a radioactive landfill site.
Prior to London winning the Olympic bid, the London Aquatics Centre was designed and built by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid. It’s sleek curved roof will be the first thing that greets visitors as they enter the park and it will act as the main venue for swimming, diving and synchronised swimming.
Aside from the stadium, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is one of the most talked about structures in Olympic Park. Designed by internationally acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor, the Orbit’s twisting form leads viewers to an 85-metre high platform where you can enjoy views of London’s cityscape and all of Olympic Park.
For more information on the 2012 Summer Olympics and Olympic Park, visit: www.london2012.com