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Newsletter - June 2012


Architecture of the London Olympics 2012

Confounding our expectations, Anthea Steeter’s lecture was as much about the history of previous London games and the fascinating story of the buildings and characters that influenced them. 2012 is the third London Olympics, our capital city having hosted the games in 1908, 1948 and again this year.

We started by seeing a map of the different areas: the River Zone, the Central Zone and the Olympic Park Zone, which, with Wembley Stadium, will host the London events.

To this are added two heritage zones, Hadleigh Castle, Essex which will be used for the mountain bike event, and Greenwich Park which will host the equestrian events and the modern pentathlon with the backdrop of the Inigo Jones Queen’s House. The modern pentathlon derives from the ancient Greek Olympics, but since 1896 has covered the sports of fencing, shooting, running, swimming and riding. Lords cricket ground

Other existing buildings that will be used include the Millennium Dome, which has been adapted to host the gymnastics, and in the Central Zone, the archery will take place at Lords Cricket Ground with its iconic media centre, which won the RIBA Sterling Prize in 1999. This was designed by Future Systems and built out of aluminium using boat-building technology. (The tented covers to the Mound Stand at Lords were designed by Michael Hopkins, who also designed the Velodrome at the Olympic Park.) Wembley stadium

Wembley Stadium, built on the site of the old Empire Stadium, which was controversially demolished, was designed by Foster and Partners and has a dramatic steel arch above it. During the demolition of the old building, the foundations of Watkin’s folly were discovered, commenced in 1895 and inspired by the construction of the Eiffel Tower; unfortunately the ground was liable to subsidence and the project ran into financial problems and was never completed.

In spite of the reduced state of the economy in 1948, Clement Atlee was keen to host the Olympics in London and the old Empire Stadium hosted all the main events in one venue. It was also the start and finish of the marathon which was run to the distance established in the 1908 Olympics of 26 miles, 385 yards.

Athletes had to bring their own shoes, soap and towels as finances were so constrained. [This contrasts with the 2012 Olympics where the kit includes suitcases full of gear and a free MP3 player, Bermuda shorts and rubber duck!]

The newly built Olympic Stadium in Stratford, designed by Populous, will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, the track and field events, as well as the some of the Paralympics. Unfortunately the final part of the design, in the form of a wrap around the building, has not yet materialised due to lack of funds.

The towering sculpture, The Orbit by Anish Kapoor, is the Olympic Park’s vertical feature, built with money from Britain’s richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, has attracted different opinions. Aquatics centre[Piers Gough, architect and RA, described it as looking as if it had melted in a fire, and one of the great disasters borne of mayoral desperation!]

The Aquatic Centre, with two swimming pools and a diving pool, by Zaha Hadid has attracted more favourable comment [fantastic, spectacular] and the Velodrome by Hopkins Architects – nicknamed ‘the pringle’ also has won praise from architects and critics alike and has been described as the key building for the Olympics.Velodrome

Some temporary structures will be removed after the close of the games, but these last two will form legacy buildings in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will be landscaped into one of the largest city parks in Europe, and the athletes’ housing converted to residential flats. Let us hope that the intention of leaving a positive legacy is fulfilled.

New Members’ Tea Party

This was hosted by the Committee and 25 new members attended and enjoyed a tea at Monique Bourn’s lovely manor house. This is likely to be the last such occasion to be held here as Monique will be moving away from Norfolk and will be sadly missed. The weather was very kind to us and we enjoyed a delicious tea in the garden, and the event was a great success

Our summer break

We hope you all have an enjoyable summer, whatever you do and wherever you go. If you visit places of historic interest, museums or galleries, whether at home or abroad, perhaps you could let us have some pictures to share with members on your return in September.

In the meantime, we hope many of you will enjoy our Summer Garden Party on 12th July which will be held at East Carleton Manor before our recess. A few tickets remain. We also look forward to receiving bookings for our visit to Harlow on 6th September and our Special Interest Day on 23rd October.

Take advantage…

… of your membership of our national society by checking out the concessions offered by the Tate galleries and the Royal Academy and other bodies. Details of these are available on the NADFAS website at this link


Some more exhibitions of interest not mentioned in our last newsletter

Royal Academy
Summer Exhibition 2012
4 June to 12 August 2012

Tate Modern
Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye
28 June to 14 October

The British Museum
Shakespeare: Staging the World
19 July – 25 November 2012