Open City is an annual event in London (and more recently extended to Tel Aviv, New York, Dublin, Galway and Barcelona) which throws open the doors to some of the city’s most treasured buildings so that the general public can experience these usually off-limits spaces.
As part of this exciting initiative, the 2012 Olympic Park has allowed the public to take part in a series of bus tours annually for the past five years and this year was no exception. This past weekend, over 4,000 people (including WAN!) took part in tours of the Olympic Site, pushing the total number of visitors to the Park over the 200,000 mark.
For the first time the excited visitors were able to leave the buses behind and enter Populous’ Olympic Stadium and Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, prior to the Stadium being encased in a twisted wrap and protective steel this October as the finishing touches are applied.
Regularly quoted was the fact that construction on the site was both on budget and on schedule (if indeed a little early) with all permanent venues now completed a year before the Games kick off. Highlights of the tour included the flowing Velodrome by Hopkins Architects – up for this year’s Stirling Prize –Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, and the ugly/beautiful ArcelorMittal Orbit by Arup and Anish Kapoor.
Also standing at the edge of the Park – although not officially part of it – is the newly completed Westfield Shopping Centre which opened today. Spanning 1.9million sq ft and costing £1.8bn, the retail development includes 250 shops, 70 food and beverage outlets, 1,200 residences and 130,000 sq ft of office space.
ODA Chairman John Armitt explains: “Seeing is believing and we have tried to open up the Olympic Park ‘big build’ to as many people as possible so they can see the progress and transformation for themselves. Open House has been a great opportunity for thousands of people to follow the transformation of what was a predominantly industrial area into a new part of London with world class sports venues, housing and infrastructure set in a fantastic new park.”