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Mythmaking the London Olympics

Mythmaking the London Olympics and its aftermath continues. A body called the Architecture Foundation, based in far off Kensington Gore, is the latest to decide it should provide a commentary on the Olympic Park. Publicity on its Facebook site announces they will explore ‘the revolutionary new district which replaced one of the East End’s most implacable industrial wastelands’. Where precisely the revolution has taken place is anyone’s guess but even the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has given up on the wasteland description of the land but myths live on in the architectural imagination. It makes for a much more adventurous event when you’re slumming it in the East End to be exploring a former wasteland rather than a place which was ‘a hive of activity and industrial innovation’ as the revisionists at the LLDC now describe the former industrial land on their Sweetwater page, Before the Games. No mention is made of those displaced by the event.

The walk starts at Hackney Wick station but the Foundation seems to be unaware of the stresses being placed on the ‘bohemian warehouse conversions’ and their inhabitants as the artist community faces displacement by more up market developments in Hackney Wick and Fish Island. However, they are impressed with the fact the area has its ‘very own E20 postcode’ and even though the Parkland is ‘empty’ it is nevertheless ‘utopian’. Then, without any attempt to distinguish between different areas, they make a rapid move into the UK’s third largest shopping centre, without any realisation that the wanderers have left the Olympic Park and entered the entirely separate Stratford City.

Being architects, presumably, they are excited that the London 2012 Olympics provided architects with a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity, thereby regurgitating an oft repeated Olympics slogan. Sadly, even though their function is to build homes, they fail to distinguish between the small number of homes being built in the Olympic Park and the 10,000 homes claimed by the LLDC, which they say are to be built on ‘plots surrounding the visionary’ stadiums, except of course they aren’t as they include all sorts of sites outside the Park. But no matter, they can still enthuse that ‘Once again some of our era’s finest built environment professionals have been engaged to draw up Stratford’s future’!

I did attempt to offer some corrections but my comments were queued to be passed by the site moderator. They are still queuing

The walk is scheduled to end at the Stratford Regional Station, a bit short of the old Stratford and Carpenters Estate which the AF says have long been a ‘lightening’(sic) rod for dissatisfaction’. So it is unclear whether the experts will actually penetrate the remnants of Stratford to investigate the community ‘at risk of being divided’. Rapidly returning to a more optimistic outlook, however, the AF then declares there has been an ‘artistic renaissance in the Olympic Park’s industrial fringe’.

All of this, it considers, reveals ‘a landscape where the complex consequences of London’s increasingly popular “Doughnut” region are most apparent.’

Unfortunately the AF seems not to have grasped that the industrial fringe is no more and large numbers of artists are now moving out

A punch in the doughnut?

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