Today I went past two areas of significant regeneration – projects that are underway that have already or will change the face of two previously industrial districts into cultural communities in which to live, work, and play.
Olympic Park, Lower Lea Valley, Stratford City Masterplan
I haven’t been past the Olympic Park development in a long while, not since July this year. I was on my way to Stratford on the DLR from Bow Church and my how things have changed. The roof structure of the Aquatic Centre is up. It is not yet clad, but its distinctive wave-like shape is now evident. The area around Stratford station has changed significantly. An enormous steel bridge spans the numerous railway lines that travel through Stratford and links the station entrance and town centre to the beginnings of Stratford City, Westfield’s massive shopping centre and mixed use development. Together with the legacy plan for the Olympic Park, this ambitious regeneration plan of the Lower Lea Valley and Stratford boasts 2.9 million sq ft of retail and leisure space, 6.6 million sq ft of offices, 1.3 million sq ft hotel accommodation, 16,400 new homes, and 180,000 sq ft of community facilities.
Tate Modern, Bankside Masterplan
The Tate Modern, one of my favourite contemporary gallery spaces and an ingeniously redeveloped, regenerated industrial cathedral, is expanding into the space behind the existing gallery. It is already a frontispiece on the south bank of the River Thames nestled between Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to the east, residential lofts and Blackfriars Bridge to the west. New office buildings were constructed in the last couple of years on Southwark Street (Blue Fin Building, Bankside Mix), with new shops, restaurants, and bars at street level. The new Tate Modern extension, in my opinion, will make better use of the inward facing space including beautifully manicured gardens and create a better link from the river to Southwark. A new residential development, called Neo Bankside. It is a development joint venture between Native Land and Grosvenor and was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. No longer will Bankside be separate pieces of a puzzle scattered around perimeter streets and thoroughfares as boundaries, with the Tate Modern’s backside snubbing inland Southwark. It will instead be a neighbourhood, with business, culture, natural outdoor space, and homes co-mingling with the gallery as its centrepiece.
I haven’t yet got into the habit of taking photos as I’m going past things (when it’s not a planned visit), so photos will have to follow in a future update!