Dents in the Fence is a wide ranging scoping study commissioned by LLDC, seeking to identify and assess all the opportunities, for local communities who live and work around the park, to engage with the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during the construction phase to clear, connect and complete the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP).
The brief asked for three key Tasks to be considered within the study:
Task 1: Physical ‘Dents in the Fence’ centres
Task 2: Delivery next steps for these centres
Task 3: Mapping accessible routes to link these centres.
All proposals within the study have been developed with the objective to open as early as possible to maximise the benefit of the Dents in the Fence within the 18 month period from Autumn/Winter 2012 to Spring/Summer 2014.
Meadowcroft Griffin Architects with Tomato, Appleyards and Shape were appointed in Mid September 2012 through a LLDC Framework mini competition.
With multiple local communities and a complex range of conditions around the park, the team have aimed to engage with as many different groups as possible over the course of the study, including:
• Community groups: a diverse mix of groups and existing providers, who are hot wired to their communities’ needs
• Local authorities: various departments from each of the four host boroughs
• Potential partners and developers
• LLDC teams
• Specific groups and individuals who emerged during the project as potential links with the Dents in the Fence.
Through a combination of individual reviews with each group and joint review sessions, we have identified both the potential gaps that the Dents project could fill and the key principles to be used as assessment criteria. The specific projects proposed in this report have been developed to ensure that they are robust in both engaging each specific community, that they foster new connections, support links between communities, starting now in readiness for the future access to and through the park.
Key Aims and Objectives
LLDC objectives from the initial brief have been reviewed and developed with a wide range of LLDC teams and community groups throughout the study, and have been used to help define and develop the Dents proposals in this report:
Build a sense of local ownership: to participate in the park development and build its identity as a local park as well as elite uses
Share information about legacy plans: keep local people informed about the current works and future opportunities
Enable local people to participate in the types of activities that pre-figure the future park uses including: education, horticulture, arts and culture, sports and healthy living.
Awareness and anticipation: to generate interest and excitement to ensure that local people use the park and facilities when it opens
Start Now /Early Engagement: opportunities to engage local people as early as possible including phased early access, volunteering, and interim Dents activities and events
Access and Opportunities for All: accessible and inspiring interim spaces and activities for all ages and abilities.
Initial proposals emerging from the various consultation interviews focussed on a combination of two approaches, of reinforcing the existing community centres and facilities as Central Bases, alongside an ambitious approach to create early access into the Park, as both managed tours and pockets or peninsulas of land on the fringes which could be offered back to the community early for interim use. Although these proposals for early access were supported in principle by both LLDC teams and the community groups, this approach was ultimately considered unviable due to the complexity of overlapping with the contractors predetermined programme of works.
The final strategy for Dents in the Fence has been developed to use this time restriction on access to the park as a strength: by starting away from the fence, working with the existing community Central Bases at the heart of their communities; and moving inwards towards the park to activate key sites on the periphery of the fence as Dents in the Fence centres; in readiness to step across the fence into the park for early access once the construction works are complete in each area of the park.
This approach has structured the various mini projects into a number of distinct strategies, each of which could be implemented separately or combined to tailor the Dents project to suit the available budget and decision on project priority based on the outcomes of the final assessment process.
The strategies are ordered to mirror the movement, starting away from the fence and moving into the park. This order also reflects the overall priority ranking of the projects:
Strategy 1.0 Central bases: existing centres acting as both information hubs and reinforcing activities that link to the Dents project through a range of capital and revenue funded projects.
Strategy 2.0 Spread the Word: information creation and dissemination, and events.
Strategy 3.0 Gateways and Launch Pads: range of information, art and built intervention.
Strategy 4.0 Fields of Play: temporary sites for early managed activities.
Strategy 5.0 High Points: beacons that connect all communities around the park
Strategy 6.0 Now Routes: early managed access to QEOP as tours and ‘dirty peninsulas’.
Strategy 7.0 Live Routes: permanent open streets through QEOP.
The Detailed schedule of all projects is included in the appendix section 6.0
The aim is to create links between the various Dents projects to help generate new patterns of movement between the different communities living and working around the park:
To link up the initial project strategies into consolidated Dents projects focused on key gateways that offer elements of sport, art, events and information.
To test the approach of ‘dirty peninsulas’ that extend public access to existing features within the park, without crossing into the construction site. Each of these could incorporate elements of the different strategies.
To test the viability of linking the individual peninsulas to create wider connections. As this would cross over construction traffic routes this would need to be evaluated as either out of hours limited weekend access or marshalled access.
Two over-riding principles have emerged strongly through the Dents scoping process, that are key to defining the shape and character of the Dents as a period of preparation and anticipation of the future QEOP:
• Legacy: interpreted as a stepping stone or springboard, linking the benefits of the recent past from the Games, through a time of preparation whilst the park is closed for transformation; to a greater sense of readiness for local people to best enjoy the benefits of the future park. This means as a wide ranging local community resource, including sport, arts and culture, healthy living and job opportunities.
• Generosity: to offer a wide range of new opportunities to local people, that can be accessed for free or minimal charge, signals an open invitation to engage with the park starting now and builds interest and excitement around what the park and its facilities will offer once QEOP is fully open.
The proposals in this report successfully scope a range of solutions which meet and exceed the objectives and expectations of the original brief. Structured as clearly defined strategies, each of which includes a bespoke shopping list of mini projects, the overall scope offers a wide range of options for LLDC to consider taking forward to implementation: from modest yet essential facilitation works such as a landline at the View Tube; to engaging cross media communication; and ambitious proposals to reuse Big Blue media studios as iconic Dents in the Fence centres.