The amazing London 2012 Olympics took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The Park was developed with a very sustainable vision. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the Olympics back in 2012, however on Saturday I was lucky enough to be at the World Athletics Championships held at the Park and managed to see first hand how the sustainability legacy of the games was holding up.
The first thing I noticed when walking to the Park from Hackney Wick station was the area’s development. There were loads of brand new residential areas which I am told are low energy, low water and made from non-toxic materials. They were surrounded by cycle lanes, a pretty canal and plenty greenery supporting both sustainable transport and biodiversity.
Arriving at the Park I was astonished by the organisation. Every block of seats had toilets and a food stall. No queues in sight! Most corners hosted bins which were clearly labelled for either general or recycled waste. There were plenty of points to refill water bottles encouraging the reduction in single use plastic bottles and when I treated myself to a tasty hot dog I was pleased to see that the packaging was fully recyclable.
Once the morning athletics session was over I ventured over to the ‘Hero Village’ which was full of fun activities. One activity really caught my eye. The ‘Blue Badge Park Tour’ gave children wheelchairs and tasked them to navigate ramps, doorways and corners to become more aware of what it is like for those with disabilities.
From what I can see the sustainable vision for the Park is still going strong.
Did you know?
- By 2025 there will be 15,000 jobs created
- More than 5,000 people (30 per cent from the local area) worked on the Park during its transformation – including 60 apprentices
- Planning permission has been granted for 6,800 homes
- There are 525 bird boxes and 150 bat boxes
- Over 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 240,000 wetland plants have/will be planted
- The venues use 56% less drinking water than equivalent buildings
After the athletics I headed to the ArcelorMittal Orbit for a look around and a journey down their world’s highest and longest tunnel slide (178 metres!). Designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is just outside the Park. It’s made of 60% recycled steel, including washing machines and used cars. At the top of the building you get a 20 mile view of the Olympic Park and the London skyline. Once at the top you can either walk down the outer staircase, abseil down or do what I did and slide down. It was so fun!!!
Whilst the likelihood is very slim that an Olympic Games or World Championship will ever be at the Park again in my lifetime it is still worth a visit as there is so much to do in the area. You can take a stadium tour, go for a walk or bike ride, check out the Energy Centre, take a boat ride, have some delicious food or drinks by the canal, see some art… the list goes on and on!