Olympic park and garden bridge to bring London new Artistic green Arteries
The spectacular London 2012 Olympic Games may be over, but for the park that helped stage it the race is far from run. In fact, its second phase is only just beginning.
Saturday (April 5) sees the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park re-open to the public following an 18-month facelift.
This, together with the planned Garden Bridge, will give the capital two artistic, green arteries for visitors from home and abroad to enjoy.
The Stratford venue's freshly-landscaped southern area will re-open from 10am together with the 114.5m-tall (376ft) ArcelorMittal Orbit tower.
London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) chief executive Dennis Hone has already described the 560-acre Olympic Park's upgrade as creating a “new heart for east London”.
So what can visitors expect?
Planners hope to give the east London park a feel of London's Southbank, but with more open green spaces and sports facilities. From the beginning, the park has woven world-class artworks into its architecture and landscape. This trend will continue as the park evolves, with even more emphasis on including local communities.
Arts and culture projects will include a mobile artist studio, free workshops and talks, festivals and further art commissions and poetry performances. An arts and culture trail around the park will soon be launched.
The park's flagship Olympic Stadium, which will be West Ham United's new home, will stay off limits until August 2016, apart from five Rugby World Cup games in 2015.
Just down the road, visitors will, if everything goes to plan, be able to enjoy something unique in 2017.
A new 370-metre (404 yards) bridge is planned across the River Thames, linking north and south London.
This £150 million bridge would be traffic-free, and enjoy instead the sounds of birdsong and the water below.
The two-pier green space will be packed with trees, wildflowers, plants and woodland, aimed at injecting new creative life into the North Bank area east of Somerset House and Waterloo Bridge.
Some critics are likening Garden Bridge to New York's jaw-dropping High Line project.
The Thomas Heatherwick-designed structure would in itself be a piece of public art, with a fertile, car-less space for pedestrians and commuters, transplanting a new brand of public space right into the heart of the city.
Oh, and it's the brainchild of New Avengers and Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, who dreamed up the idea 15 years ago.