Landscape practice energised by the Olympic Park project

At last Thursday’s talk on the topic of how designing Stratford’s Olympic Park has influenced the practice of landscape architecture, The Building Centre and Landscape Institute invoked the heady days before the London Olympics in 2012.

At that time, much landscaping work was going on behind the scenes to ensure that the park would be ready on time for the millions of visitors who came to Stratford to enjoy the games. The London 2012 games transformed Stratford, an easterly outpost of the City, from one of London’s more ramshackle boroughs into a modern quarter, glistening with architectural gems, and boasting some seriously enviable sporting facilities.

The supporting star of the show was the Olympic Park itself, where visitors admired swales, wetlands, meadows and grassy lawns. Now a functioning public park, which has already welcomed more than three million visitors, the Queen Elizabeth II Park as it is now known, has become an exemplar of landscaping best practice and an inspiration to landscape architects throughout the UK and across the globe.

To discuss the largest urban park created in London for more than a century were: Dr Phil Askew, Project Sponsor Parklands and Public Realm, London Legacy Development Corporation; Tom Armour, Leader, Global Landscape Architecture, Arup; Andrew Harland Senior Partner, LDA Design; Tim Heading ‎Technical Director, Landscape Architect, Atkins; Jennette Emery-Wallis, Director, LUC; and Alison King, Landscape Architect, LUC — all of whom were integral to the delivery and design of the park before and after the games.

The panel agreed that the experience of designing the Queen Elizabeth II Park has helped to instill the profession of landscape architecture with a new confidence that has sent ripples across the globe to Qatar, which is preparing to host the 2024 Olympic Games, and Delhi: A fine landscape legacy.

How did designing the Olympic Park influence landscape practice?’ is the first in a series of three talks; the second is ‘Can we design out poverty by creating great landscapes’ on Monday, January 26th, and the third, ‘How do you pay for green infrastructure in an age of austerity?’ on Monday, February 9th.

These three talks support ‘Rethinking the Urban Landscape, an exhibition on best practice in landscape projects, which is showing at The Building Centre until Thursday, February 26th.