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Olympic Park Case Study

Olympic Park Case Study

The industrial revolution was such an important part of British history that it was even included in the opening ceremony of the Summer 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, where there were scenes of rural areas transformed into industrial areas with many dancers representing workers in the factories.

Like in the opening ceremony, the real-life industrial revolution shaped Stratford. However, the reality of the area was that it was one of the most deprived areas in England due to the deindustrialisation that came after the industrial revolution. With this in mind, the Olympic Park was not only seen as a space to host the Olympics and Paralympics but as an opportunity to improve the area with the transformations. We will be looking into this case study in more detail right now.

Olympic Park case study London

The Olympic Park, renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the Olympics and Paralympics, was built for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. It is now the largest urban park in the UK, with it being around the size of 300 football pitches and is open 24 hours.

It is a case study of how events like the Olympics and Paralympics were an opportunity to not only showcase London internationally and attract visitors from all over the world but also a chance to use the budget to host the Olympics and Paralympics in the area that was hosting them.

During his time as the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said the below, showing the potential of hosting the Olympics.

"I didn't bid for the Olympics because I wanted three weeks of sport, I bid for the Olympics because it's the only way to get the billions of pounds out of the government to develop the east end."¹

Olympic Park Case Study Scene of the industrial revolution during the opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012 StudySmarterFig. 1 - Scene of the industrial revolution during the opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012

Olympic Park case study urban regeneration

The Olympic Park was built over Stratford, Bow, Leyton, and Hackney Wick. These areas were chosen because they were in need of urban regeneration as they were more deprived compared to other regions in the UK.

Urban regeneration is when an urban area, such as a town or a city, is transformed by refurbishing buildings, building or improving infrastructure and creating landscapes.

There were four areas of focus for urban regeneration:

  1. Economic
  2. Education and sports
  3. Social
  4. Regeneration.

Economic benefits

£180 million were invested into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with the expectation of attracting 1.5 million additional visitors to London and producing $3.5 billion worth of economic value to Stratford. The International Quarter, a business development housing companies such as Transport for London and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) bring the total number of jobs in the area to 25,000.

Education and sports benefits

Education, well-being, and sports benefits began with the park's design. Putting the development in the middle of the park encourages workers and residents to use the cycling and walking trails and the leisure and sporting facilities for a healthier and more creative place to live. After the games, the London Aquatics Centre was made accessible and affordable for the public to use. The Olympic Stadium was redeveloped to hold ticketed events such as London Grand Prix Athletics events and facilitate school sports.

Social benefits

The Olympic Park had many social benefits, including housing, a new school, health centres, business spaces, and sports venues. Chobham Academy, a school for students aged 3-18, was able to open in the East Village. The Olympic Media Centre has been redeveloped as the "East London Tech City" and "Here East", a place for start-up hubs for flexible spaces for art and design companies.

Olympic Park Case Study Chobham Academy StudySmarterFig. 2 - Aerial view of Chobham Academy

Regeneration benefits

After the games, the temporary venues were removed, and existing infrastructures were changed to become more permanent structures. The Olympic Village was converted into 2,800 flats and apartments, and new developments such as The International Quarter will provide 7,000 additional homes on the edge of the park. It is not just residential buildings being developed; the East Bank is set to be a new cultural quarter. The Victoria and Albert museum is building a new museum, and the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company is opening a new theatre. Furthermore, educational institutions such as the University College London plan to build a campus catering to 4,000 students.

Olympic Park case study challenges

Although there were benefits and intentions of regenerating and making the areas less deprived, the Olympic Park came with a set of challenges.

Economic challenges

Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games has historically been related to spending a lot of money. The 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics were no different. The Olympic Stadium was estimated to cost £701 million, three times the original estimate. This angered the public as the money also came from taxpayers.

Education and sports challenges

The Olympic Stadium is home to the Premier League football club, West Ham United F.C. However, it is costing Londoners 8 to £10 million a year. The reason being the stadium lost value by £381 million between 2014 and 2020 and cannot make a profit as estimated.

Olympic Park Case Study The Olympic Stadium, home to West Ham United F.C. since 2016 StudySmarterFig. 3 - The Olympic Stadium, home to West Ham United F.C. since 2016

Social challenges

Businesses were relocated to make space for the Olympic Park. People also had to relocate; 425 residents of the Clays Lane Estate, a housing estate that was demolished to make way for the park, were forced to relocate. During the construction of the park, not many jobs went to the local residents, it was seen as a missed opportunity of training people, and there were still high unemployment rates in the area. Furthermore, the construction jobs were only temporary.

Regeneration challenges

The reality of the Athletes Village being regenerated to East Village to create new housing and affordable housing for local residents was unaffordable. Affordable rent was seen as 80% of the market rent by the government. However, housing in the Olympic area is possible for people with an annual income of £60,000 to £90,000 when the average income for local residents is around £27,000. The understanding of 'affordable' is questionable as local residents cannot afford to live in East Village, which is a prime example of gentrification.

Gentrification is when an area regenerates and attracts more affluent people while displacing less affluent people.

Olympic Park environmental case study

In the bid for the Summer 2012 Olympics, one of the main points that were pushed was the sustainable use of the venues after the Olympics.

Sustainable environment

Particular care was taken in rejuvenating the original industrial brownfield site of 560 acres. Before construction, the Olympic Delivery Authority cleaned more than 2.3 million cubic meters of contaminated soil.

Brownfield is disused and derelict land that was previously developed.

The water quality in the River Lea that runs through the Olympic Park was also improved, and green areas were placed alongside the river. With sustainability and biodiversity in mind, vegetation suited to an urban environment was chosen, and 4,000 trees were planted.

Furthermore, for construction, sustainability was the way forward. Materials for the buildings were transported by trains instead of lorries as they have a lower carbon footprint. 90% of the material by weight that arose from demolition work was to be reused or recycled, including bricks, steel frames, and stone paving. The stadium was made of at least 25% of recycled materials.

The athletes used electric vehicles, and 120 charging stations were placed, becoming the UK's most extensive network of charging points. These charging stations are used today for emission-free travel.

Olympic Park case study assessment

The success of the Olympic Park is assessed in many different ways; one way was the ambitions and targets set by the government. This was done by comparing indicators of the London average on topics such as creating wealth and reducing poverty, supporting healthier lifestyles, and developing thriving neighbourhoods in the areas where the Olympic Park is situated. When looking at the indices, creating wealth and reducing poverty seemed to meet targets. However, the other areas were not meeting targets.

Looking at the success of the Olympic Park from the point of view of the local residents may give another result. With the gentrification of the area and the promises of "affordable" housing, it seems to benefit some people, not all.

Olympic Park Case Study - Key takeaways

  • Using the Olympic Park as a case study to understand how the event was seen as an opportunity to improve the area with the transformations.
  • Areas such as Stratford, Bow, Leyton and Hackney Wick were deprived areas with the need for regeneration. The focus for urban regeneration was:
    • Economic
    • Education and sports
    • Social
    • Regeneration.
  • Despite creating benefits economically, socially and in education and sports, there were also challenges, particularly the gentrification of the areas.
  • One of the main selling points of the Olympic Park was the sustainable use of the venues after the Olympics and Paralympics. Care was taken in building the park, transporting materials, and planting vegetation.
  • Assessment of the success of the Olympic Park was mixed. From the point of view of the government, some targets were met. However, local residents will have different views concerning the rise in the price of housing.

References

  1. ¹Chris Mason. "Who's who: Political credit from London Olympics". BBC News. 2012.
  2. Fig. 1 - Scene of the industrial revolution during the opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2012_Summer_Olympics_opening_ceremony_(12).jpg) by Matt Lancashire (https://www.flickr.com/people/64781900@N00) Licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  3. Fig. 2 - Aerial view of Chobham Academy (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chobham_Academy,_16_April_2012.jpg) by EG Focus (https://www.flickr.com/people/38865853@N03) Licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  4. Fig. 3 - Olympic Stadium housing West Ham United F.C. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Olympic_Stadium_(London),_16_April_2012.jpg) by EG Focus (https://www.flickr.com/people/38865853@N03) Licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about Olympic Park Case Study

The Olympic park solved urban problems such as cleaning up the industrial site it was built on and working on water quality in River Lea. The athlete's village was turned into housing which was said to be affordable.

There were several challenges:

  • Economic - construction costs were higher than estimated.
  • Education and sports - the Olympic Stadium is now used by West Ham United F.C. with high annual expenses.
  • Social - businesses and people had to relocate. Furthermore, many jobs did not go to locals and construction jobs were temporary.
  • Regeneration - many houses deemed 'affordable' were not actually affordable to the majority of the people, only the more affluent people. 

The London Olympic Park now serves different purposes. It was renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and is open to the public for free to enjoy. The Athletes Village became East Village, a housing development. The Olympic stadium is now the London Stadium, home to the Premier League football club, West Ham United. The Aquatic Centre is London Aquatics Centre and is open to the public.

London's Olympic Park has been regenerated by changing the functions of the infrastructure of the Olympic Games to serve the public and the local residents.

Some of the issues involving the London Olympic Park are that many properties with residents and businesses had to move to make space for the construction. Also, local wildlife was relocated for construction. The house and rental prices making it hard for locals to stay in the area.

Final Olympic Park Case Study Quiz

Question

Which statements are FALSE?

Show answer

Answer

The Olympic Park has been renamed Queen Victoria Olympic Park after the 2012 Games. 

Show question

Question

What is urban regeneration?

Show answer

Answer

Urban regeneration is when an urban area, such as a town or a city, is transformed by refurbishing buildings, building or improving infrastructure, and creating landscapes.

Show question

Question

Why was the Olympic Park built over Stratford, Bow, Leyton and Hackney Wick?


Show answer

Answer

They were more deprived compared to the rest of the UK.

Show question

Question

Regenerating business developments to house companies such as Transport for London and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) bring _____ to the area.

Show answer

Answer

jobs

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: After the games, the London Aquatics Centre was made accessible and affordable for the public to use.  

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What was the Olympic Media Centre redeveloped into?

Show answer

Answer

 The "East London Tech City" and "Here East"

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: The Olympic Stadium was estimated to cost £701 million, three times the original estimate.


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which statements are TRUE?

Show answer

Answer

The industrial revolution was an important part of British history, including in the Stratford area.

Show question

Question

What were the regeneration challenges faced with the Olympic Park?

Show answer

Answer

The reality of the Athletes Village being regenerated to East Village to create new housing and affordable housing for local residents was unaffordable. 

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: Gentrification is when an area regenerates and attracts less affluent people while displacing more affluent people.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Which statements are TRUE?

Show answer

Answer

The International Quarter is a business development housing companies such as Transport for London and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) 

Show question

Question

Which statement is FALSE?

Show answer

Answer

Chobham Academy, a school for students aged 3-18, was able to open in the East Village. 

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: The Olympic Village was converted into 2,800 flats and apartments, and new developments such as The International Quarter will provide 7,000 additional homes on the edge of the park. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which statements are TRUE?

Show answer

Answer

The Olympic Stadium was estimated to cost £701 million, three times the original estimate. This angered the public as the money also came from taxpayers. 

Show question

Question

Which statements are FALSE?

Show answer

Answer

Sustainability was never a point for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Show question

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