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PLAY


The South Park will be an urban, 21st century pleasure garden amid the sporting venues and the ArcelorMittal Orbit landmark


and challenges of yesteryear. Shared memories of times spent exploring woods, wasteland and the countryside are likely to be followed swiftly by re- marks about how children today want nothing more than to stare at screens. Let’s get one thing straight. The tech-


OLYMPIC PLAY LEGACY T


alk to any adult about ‘kids these days’ and like as not, the conversation will quickly turn to a lament for the lost adventures


Championing the need for risky play in natural surroundings, Tim Gill looks at how the play provision within The Queen


Elizabeth Olympic Park will provide distinctive, adventurous, playful places for kids of all ages


no-addicted kid is largely a myth. In fact, children today are vocal in their desire for a taste of freedom and adventure. In a survey I carried out with the brand Dairylea last year, we asked children aged five to 11 what they did most often in their free time. The answer – ‘play on consoles’ – was no surprise. But when asked what they would like to do more, the most popular answer was ‘play on our bikes and scooters’. Parents also want their children to have


the chance to play outdoors, get around on their own and learn how to look af- ter themselves. Yes, some are anxious, perhaps overly so – but most take a more balanced view. A Play England survey in 2010 found that three-quarters of parents thought that health and safety concerns were restricting school playtimes. My work aims to challenge the forces


that lead children today to be reared in captivity. So I am pleased to be support- ing the London Legacy Development Corporation (formerly the Olympic Park


Legacy Company) in its goal to cre- ate parks, public spaces and residential neighbourhoods that get children and families out of doors and active.


NORTH AND SOUTH DIVIDE The development of the whole Olympic site is a huge, 20-year plus undertaking. We’ll get the first sign of the post-Games legacy with the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, scheduled for July 2013 for the North Park and Easter 2014 for the South Park. The character of the Queen Elizabeth


Olympic Park will change dramatically from South to North. The South Park will be urban in feel, with the aim of creating a 21st century pleasure garden that pro- vides a context for the sporting venues, major cultural events, and – towering over the space – the ArcelorMittal Orbit. High visitor numbers are expected, with many coming from afar. The obvious parallels are with spaces like London’s South Bank. By contrast, the North Park is


more naturalistic, with rolling green 62 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital


landscapes, newly created wetlands, and planting that speaks to the River Lea Val- ley’s riverine ecology. It is intended to be a ‘green lung’ for the surrounding popu- lation, serving existing neighbouring communities and the many new office workers and residents that will be mov- ing into the area over the coming years. What will families find when they


come looking for places to play in these two parts of the Queen Elizabeth Olym- pic Park? The answer to this question is partly down to the two teams that have been appointed to design the Park. While their ideas are still evolving, some overall themes are already clear.


PLAYABLE THEMES SOUTH-SIDE In the South Park, the emphasis will be on threading playful offers throughout the site, so that as much of the public realm as possible is ‘playable’. The design team is led by James Corner Field Op- erations (who designed the innovative, successful Highline Park in New York) and includes PLAYLINK, which has been at


Issue 3 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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