As landscape architects a significant part of our job is to design a physical space that accommodates a certain program or use. Sometimes what we do is redesign a physical space for a programmed use that is already established. Other times we design something to reprogram or repurpose the space. But what happens if we design a physical space for a program of a temporary nature?
An example of a permanent place for a temporary program are the numerous Olympics facilities that remain part of a city’s landscape well after the Olympic Games have concluded. The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing showcased a particularly bold display of innovative architecture, including the iconic Bird’s Nest National Stadium and the Watercube that played host for the swimming events.
You remember those beautiful buildings, right? Well, shortly after the Beijing Olympics, the Bird’s Nest struggled to maintain the glory of its short lived fame. A run-down tourist attraction, the Bird’s Nest is now home to intermittent athletic events that are few and far between, its maintenance costs too high to keep it profitable. The Watercube on the other hand is now an indoor water amusement park that is actually quite popular amongst tourists.
But I think one of the most successful examples of a “leftover” Olympics-scape is actually – surprise! – a park. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London lives on as a part of the city with 560 acres being developed well beyond the 2012 Olympic Games.