The Stratford City project set out as a developer-led masterplan for a new piece of city with exceptional wider transport connectivity. In 2002, the consortium Chelsfield PLC, Stanhope PLC and London & Continental Railways asked Space Syntax to test the effectiveness of their masterplan and to help optimise the urban layout. Informed by sketching, spatial modelling and movement forecasting, we identified the opportunity to connect Stratford City to Stratford town centre via a new High Street and to the Lea Valley to the north. Our input helped the consortium manage the complexity of the design and planning process.The UK government’s decision to bid for Olympic and Paralympic Games, with a plan based around the Stratford development site, created a need to revisit and amend the Stratford masterplan, which had received planning permission in 2004. The general layout of this masterplan was used as the basis for the eventual 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games masterplan.
As part of the subsequent masterplanning, the Olympic Delivery Authority commissioned Space Syntax to undertake a Spatial Accessibility analysis of the Olympic Park in its Transformation Phase in order to understand how effectively the park would integrate with the communities that surround it.
This work looked at how the movement network for pedestrians and cyclists would work both during and after the Games to accommodate pedestrian, cycle and vehicle movements and to connect effectively into the wider urban street network. In creating convenient and safe connections, providing places for leisure and recreation, it was also important to ensure that commercial activity would be located within an efficient movement network. Our modelling revealed how the proposed designs would impact on the wider context and we highlighted opportunities to both improve and add spatial linkages.
Shortly afterwards, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets appointed Space Syntax to study the planned new park in terms of its impact on the overall economic performance of the borough. Previous research on town centre sustainability in London had identified key relationships between patterns of space and the distribution of retail uses. Our evaluation of the Legacy scheme was based on this evidence and formed part of the Tower Hamlets review process.
Today, the park and all the public facilities within have opened to the public. Major cultural and educational institutions are planning facilities in the area, demonstrating a change in attitude to a part of London that had previously been considered as peripheral. The London Legacy Development Corporation is continuing the transformation of East London.
The continuously connected grid is the most permanent feature in urbanism and has proven to be resilient and adaptable to shifting development contexts and demands. While the Olympic and Paralympic Games made the Stratford City project bigger and even more international in profile, they also made it more locally relevant by introducing the legacy of a major urban park and public facilities. Going forwards, the unfolding everyday life of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its surroundings will demonstrate the success of the legacy planning in realising the original vision.
Chelsfield London, Continental Railways, Stanhope
Olympic Delivery Authority
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Dr Kayvan Karimi