Tuesday, 7 August 2012


One of the pledges of London's 2012 Olympic legacy commitment was to turn its once largely industrial Stratford site, through which the River Lea and its navigation channels wind, into Britain's biggest urban park built for a century. They've certainly achieved a lot, completely re-drawing what went before. Landscaping the 110 acres into a multitude of designed wildernesses, the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) have worked wonders dropping bike paths and walkways into the valley strata of the Olympic Park. Whilst the area has been substantially depolluted and opened up, the focus on reconstructing the marshland otherness that came before lends the park a surreal tone, full of coloured hills of wild flowers, clinical habitats and strange reed beds laced with power cables and storm drains. The grasslands feel installed amongst the poncho bins awaiting photocalls, a huge spectator screen stands on stilts in the middle of the river, even the flat roof of a security cabin is scattered with seed and turfed. This is nature improved into something orderly, decorative and reassuring, many trees are wrapped in printed butterflies, logs are stacked with symmetry, with the knotweed vanquished, hogweed and buddleia are planted as pleasing alternatives. The overall effect leaves you with a disconcerting distrust of the environment as you walk past hidden pipes combed over in grass, loudspeakers disguised as green mushrooms and plastic grey "rocks" with other agendas. In terms of wildlife I saw one Honey bee and a group of four young Mallards, but then again it is early days. Here's a few images taken yesterday showing the odd nature of this Olympic simulated wilderness held in its unnatural state for at least another few weeks...

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