The road to 2012
Adams & Sutherland has won the Olympic Delivery Authority’s competition to upgrade the Greenway in east London, a 3km embankment and public way running from Victoria Park to West Ham down the full length of the Olympic Park. The Greenway will provide pedestrian and cycle access for visitors to the 2012 games, and will be a key structuring device for the site’s subsequent development. The ODA launched the competition in February and received 70 entries. Here the five shortlisted practices explain their schemes.
Winner: Adams & Sutherland
Our tactics for improving the Greenway recognise its role as an amenity on both a citywide and local scale. We would register and improve the qualities it already offers in the following ways:
Conceal and reveal Points of access and intersection with roads and rivers can become “nodes” of activity where new access and activity emphasise the presence of the Greenway. Equally the views from the Greenway can be opened up at these points through new openings in bridge walls.
Reuse and recycle The reinvention of this place should provide an opportunity to record and make use of the enormous process of clearance about to begin. Retaining some of the pylons which are to be dismantled will create a series of markers at the scale of the valley providing a pace to this stretch of the Greenway and a dramatic structure to support wind-responsive lights.
Boundary and seam New residential developments planned alongside the Greenway will share this space with existing communities. The Greenway can connect rather than divide by extending the activities it offers.
Amenity At the city scale the Greenway is a cycle and pedestrian route from Victoria Park to Beckton and beyond. New neighbourhood uses will supplement more limited uses, resulting in areas of intensity around the nodes. Locating good-quality play spaces at the point of access to the Greenway will provide destination points.
Destination The Greenway is also a link to a series of as yet unrecognised destinations: the Victorian Abbey Mills Pumping Station, the future Olympic visitor centre and East Beckton Alps and eventually Cross River Park.
The Plus proposal redesigns the Greenway experience through layers of vegetation, seasonal scents, textures, nesting and breeding areas. Plus aims to transform the Greenway’s apparently linear route into a rich perceptual journey, varying in intensity and accent throughout the year.
The established role of the Greenway as functional spine to north-east London is seized and renewed through its reinvention not only as path, but as meeting place, urban node, and ecological haven, serving the spontaneous use of international visitors and the long-term needs of local residents alike.
Flexible in both use and biodiversity, the once social spaces of the Olympic era are designed to naturally return to biodiverse fields intertwined with public urban infrastructure.
The industrial heritage of the East End is celebrated through the use of red brick as the leading material. To overcome the separation between communities and activities on the north and south of the Greenway we propose frequent connections in the form of green “scent bridges”.
To avoid the Greenway becoming purely a thoroughfare we propose to create places, in connection with existing and new amenities, historic views and attractions. These destinations include the ecopark at the intersection with the river Lea, “Mount Olympus”, improvements to Abbey Mill recreation ground and a skate park down to West Ham station.
The bigger places are added to by a series of smaller “identity rooms” along the pedestrian pathway. These accommodate a series of playstations and seating as well as specifically designed brick paving.
Kinnear Landscape Architects
Our aim is to make the Greenway green again by creating a rich herb layer with diverse insect life which will support birds and bats. Illuminated landmarks will be introduced along the route, to make it safe and visible from afar. Allotments and gardens on the side of the Greenway will diversify the vegetation types and makes the route more populated and safer. Play zones will bring children and families up onto the Greenway and make it busier. Seating will be robust and informed by the ruggedness of the existing industrial landscape.
Alison Brooks Architects
To convey the spirit and image of a dynamic new linear park for London, ABA’s concept for the new identity of the Greenway project is based on velocity. Velocity implies speed, time, distance, measurement, athletics, Olympic races, as well as natural phenomena that involve speed such as wind, light and the flow of water. Last but not least is idea of the velo (cycle) city — a cyclist’s heaven — which is one of the mayor’s aims for London within a broader societal drive for sustainable urban transport.