LUC wins competition to design the North Hub of Olympic Park
The two-acre park is a linear strip of land that forms part of an extensive green space in the Lea Valley in East London. During the games, it will sit adjacent to the Velodrome and Multi-Use Arena. Beyond 2012, it will be a destination for visitors as well as a key community resource for an expanding neighbourhood of 500-800 new homes. The scheme will be delivered by Spring 2013.
The brief was to envision an inspiring playground that gives children a challenging and creative play experience, and a visitor centre to host local events and gatherings. The park will be a tranquil environment that responds to the unique setting of the River Lea with its waterways, paths and extensive patchwork of green space and natural marshland. The lively and visitor-focused South Park will make way for a more natural space for Londoners to meet, relax and enjoy local wildlife.
Land Use Consultants told Landscape News that the design stood out because architecture and landscape were treated as one. “We picked up the strong ecology theme of the North Park and used that as our core design theme throughout – from building design, to playground, to bespoke play structures, planting and paving,” said an LUC spokesperson.
The theme of life cycle and ecology will be explored in a series of landscape character areas for education and informal play, including a den making area and log pile habitats for insects and invertebrates. A water play area designed to mimic the River Lea’s morphology in miniature will encourage children to dam, flood and manage the flow of water through a series of weirs, locks and sluice gates. The playground will culminate in a pine forest featuring high level climbing platforms and walkways, large scale robust swings, a large competition-grade skatepark and bare-rock landscape of boulders that can be used for climbing and parkour.
The hub building itself will include a visitor centre, café, event lawn and seating terrace and a multi-functional space for local schools and community groups to use. In keeping with the ethos of sustainability, the hub will be made from timber, key rooms like the foyer and café will be naturally lit from two sides, and local meadow species blown in on the wind will naturally colonise a biodiversity roof.
Judge Tim Gill, of Rethinking Childhood, said: “Their highly naturalistic landscape design and understated, flexible building plan are ambitious yet subtle, and should fit well within the wider park. The outdoor space has great potential to offer immersive, challenging and engaging play.”