Tell us about the early design brief
The brief was about embedding art within the Olympic Park. Our overall aim was to involve art and culture within the site as an integrated element rather than as an add-on.
What inspired your design concept?
The ‘Fantastic Archaeology’ wildflower meadows act as a floral celebration of the industrial heritage of the site and re-create the footprints of the industrial buildings which previously occupied the location through patterns of coloured planting. Sited between the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre, the meadows can be enjoyed at ground level as a vivid floral display and focus for discussion relating to the history of the site and the flora and fauna of the biodiversity that inhabit the Park now. When viewed from above, such as from the viewing platform of the adjacent ArcellorMittal Orbit, the distinctive graphic geometries of the planting are revealed.
‘Fantastic Facts’ were collected and installed on bespoke plaques fixed to benches distributed throughout the Park. These nuggets of knowledge, from astrology to zoology, were collected from the broad experience of the local community and global specialists from a variety of fields. They are statements to excite, bewilder, inform and inspire.
Meanwhile, Greenway Entrances provide a distinctive welcome to a pedestrian and cycle route in East London. Sitting above London’s Northern Outfall Sewer, the Greenway is a 7.1km nature-lined route from Hackney Wick to the Thames at Beckton with views across the new Olympic Park and over historic Abbey Mills Pumping Station.
Drawing on the narrative of the route’s history and location, patterns from manhole access covers along the Greenway are scaled to form motifs applied to the new entrance features, consisting of 6m tall cast iron vertical markers, textured concrete surface patterning and sculptural vehicle barrier blocks. These create a series of urban welcome matt surfaces and legible vertical markers to this significant linear landscape.
What challenges did you face along the way?
The challenges between the various projects were varied, but collectively finding a way of embedding art within the fabric and infrastructure of the Park rather than as an add-on were the guiding principles behind most of the projects.