Day 5 of the (Un)Urban Global Citizenship Strand had began with groups meeting at Fish Island, near the Olympic Park. The groups had met within Stour Space that provided a creative hub, as well as, a prime example of the creative spaces around the vicinity of the area between Hackney Wick and the Olympic Stadium. We had kick started the day with a tour around the Olympic Park, immersing ourselves with the make-up of its open space and lush green landscape that surrounded the stadium. Having never visited the Olympic Park, my first impressions of the space was a Disneyfied version to what I had initially been informed the park to be, with it possessing quite the opposite spatial qualities.
Among the chaos there is a frenzy of wacky light fittings, of playground installations, of seats, tree species, sculptural lumps of granite, kiosks, railings and coloured surfaces all of which contribute to any urban planned space. The overall space within the Olympic Park does give an indication of a well planned space, but, this very planned nature contributes towards its lack of organic forms, which is so beneficial to the nature of a successful sustainable space. Although, the space does provide very nice planting/ thought out ecology throughout the Olympic Parks landscape.
Surrounding the park, you’ll notice the immediate effects of gentrification with housing developments and the creation of shopping malls. The gentrifying space around the Olympic Park provides a range of creative challenges that require a bottom approach of community governance/local expertise, whereby, creating exciting but innovative spaces, which benefit the area and local needs.
“Inspire a generation” was the rhetoric behind the heart of the Olympic bid in 2007, a message that was also spread across Stratford during the summer games in 2012. And so, the very nature of the Olympic legacy is somewhat unfortunate with very little being done to benefit the local community. However, my visit today to the R-Urban Mobile Garden City had sort of changed that opinion, leading for new hope! The R-Urban Garden City project is situated at the heart of the East Village in Stratford that looked almost out of context in it’s dense urban surroundings. After being given a guided tour around the garden by the local volunteers, they informed us about bottom-up participation between the community and the garden space and how the project was being built around the combination of individual stories and personas to create a centre inspiring community cohesion between different groups of citizens within the community.