FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: Open for business

Posted in England, London by folkestonejack on April 12, 2014

The south section of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened to the public on 5th April 2014, attracting over 50,000 visitors across its first weekend. The park may not have been quite so busy when we wandered over for its second weekend but it was still getting a good amount of pedestrian traffic. It’s not hard to see why, with such a wonderful collection of family friendly spaces and activity spots on offer (all getting well and truly tested as we walked by).

The park was certainly lively as we passed through, though we deliberately sought out some of the quieter spots on our wander. This turned out to be much easier than we expected – it was really surprising to see just how quickly you could lose the crowds simply by heading away from the north-south pathway. Just a handful of souls were to be found in the Great British Garden (a handy tip we gleaned from Diamond Geezer’s blog post on Visiting Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) and on the lower level riverside pathways.

Mirror bridge above Carpenter's Lock

The new mirror bridge above Carpenter’s Lock

I was particularly interested to see how the high volume throughfares of the Olympic Park had been adapted for the lower volumes of everyday use. The crossing of the River Lea, above Carpenter’s Lock, was a good example of this. For the Olympic Games a vast bridge crossed this point but in post-Olympic mode it now has been replaced by three narrower bridges that form a Z. In many ways the replacements are more attractive with elegantly angled mirror panels underneath, presenting interesting reflections of the Orbit and the park.

On our wander through the park we took a look at some of the artwork on display, such as Pixel Wall (outside Podium cafe), Spiegelei Junior and the Mirror Labyrinth. The last of these was my favourite, a labyrinth of mirror clad posts that seemed to blend into the surrounding grass – that is, until we got to the centre and found that we were faced with multiple versions of ourselves. Maybe I’ve just long forgotten the simple pleasures of visting a hall of mirrors, but it provided me with plenty of amusement (as well as a few quirky shots featuring both photographer and subject).

There is a handy map and explanation of the artworks on the park’s Trails and tours page and printed copies should be available from the park (although on our visit we were told that they had run out).

One of the highlights of the park at its Olympic peak was its wonderful flower beds and whilst it is still early in the year, there were active signs of planting being carried out across the site (especially in some of the areas nearest to the Velodrome). Nevertheless, it’s a delightful green space and a real pleasure to be able to take a relaxed mooch about it once more.

It will be interesting to see how the park changes as various blocks of flats go up across the site, enclosing the green spaces to a greater degree, and once the Olympic Stadium comes back into operation as West Ham’s ground in 2016. I am sure we will be back to find out how all of this shapes up.



One Response

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  1. Peter Karry said, on May 19, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    And where is the mirror labyrinth now ?

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