STUDIO TRIP 2019: A DAY OUT AT QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK
Every year, our studio takes some time off to learn and to gain inspiration for a summer study trip. This year’s adventure took us deep into east London to rediscover a place many of us know well…and only a short ride on the Jubilee line away from Southwark.
Before the 2012 Olympic Games, the site now known as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was long an industrial backwater, a divide in London. Lined by the four host boroughs of the Olympic Games – Hackney, Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets — and dissected by waterways and infrastructure lines. The Games and Legacy masterplan transformed the site and its edges into a re-connected piece of city centred around new parklands. As a practice, we have been lucky to be involved in the evolution of the park since the 2005 Olympic bid through to the present day as we continue to play a role in shaping a part of London very much still in the process of becoming.
The diversity of spaces within the Park provided the setting for an eventful day out for the office. Split into nine smaller groups, each made their way from meeting points at Stratford Station to Alfred’s Meadow where a picnic in the breezy autumn sun welcomed everyone. Picnic blankets, sandwiches and fruits were shared among 300 of us before setting out on tours of the park led by colleagues who have worked on various aspects of the Park.
Each tour had a different focus depending on the specialist knowledge of group leaders: there were in-depth explorations of the bridges at the Park, an insight into the ongoing development at East Bank, the cultural and educational quarter that is the focus of many in the studio today. Anecdotes of the Park’s historic past were made and there were visits to fringe neighbourhoods such as Chobham Manor and Eastwick and Sweetwater. With the support of Lee & Stort Boats, every participant also enjoyed a boat ride up the River Lea, giving all a new perspective of the park by river.
Finally, at the end of the day, all groups gathered for drinks in Hackney Wick by the canal overlooking our very own footbridge, where impressions and stories from the day were shared by all.