All kinds of new modes of transport and parks are being built in London for the 2012 Olympics. It is getting pretty exciting: every week there's a new announcement of something different.
This summer work will begin on cable cars that will run 50m above the Thames River, linking two of the Olympic venues. According to the charismatic Mayor, Boris Johnson, it will be 'as good as a bus route with 30 buses on it'.
The proposed crossing will stretch 1.1km between North Greenwich and the Royal Victoria Dock at a maximum height of 54m above the water. Thirty four cars will carry 2,500 people an hour. It will cut travel time to just five minutes and cars will run every 30 seconds (what!) between two of the 2012 Olympic Games venues. The cars and buildings will be designed by WilkinsonEyre Architects.
Not everyone is enthused about the project. CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) has raised concerns that the system will not be able to cope with demand at peak times, particularly after concerts at the massive O2 (it seats 20,000). It also criticised the design of the two stations, which they said were uninspired and not in keeping with the urban area around them. However they praised the towers as "exciting, elegant and original" and said that they would be an iconic addition to this stretch of the river.
Others have suggested a beautiful footbridge, similar to that at the Tate Modern, would be more environmental. A rival politician says that the new cable car would only take three minutes off current crossing times, saying that what was needed was a new road crossing instead--now there's an anti-environmental idea. He added: "I've no objection to what will be a fantastic attraction but this is not a serious solution to the real transport needs for the area."
Work starts this summer on the project which will cost £40M and will be finished next year, in time for the games.
The second newly announced project is the London River Park which will connect Blackfriars Bridge with the Tower of London by way of five large themed floating pavilions. It will be a continuous 12 M. wide floating pontoon that will run parallel to the existing streets between these two important destinations.
Along its route there will be eight themed pavilions that will showcase London and be available for corporate events beside the Thames. The Mayor, ever the cheerleader, said "The sheer beauty and design brilliance of this structure will provide yet another amazing and unique attraction for the capital. We will proceed sensitively working closely with our partners, particularly in the City, to ensure that one of the most famous and cherished waterfronts in the world is enhanced for the benefit of our great capital."
The design by American architects and planners Gensler has received £60M in funding from Singapore-based asset managers.
The structure will rise and fall with the tidal river and will act as a promenade, allowing people to hop on and off via gangways to explore the narrow streets left over from Charles Dickens' times.The walk will be interspersed with eight glass-encased pavilions, possibly housing a museum, a cinema, a concert hall and an eco-park amongst other attractions.
The designers say that an advantage of the design is that it can be moved and reassembled in another part of the city and the "pods" given new themes to suit different occasions.
Luckily it still has to go through planning and design approvals, because this could be either very good or very commercial and corporate, adding nothing to the beautiful riverscape that already exists.
More on London's Olympics 2012
Despite Huge Expense, London's Olympic Stadium Could Be Torn Down
First London Olympics Gold Medal Should Go to the Velodrome
Zaha Hadid's London Olympic Swimming Pool Already Under Water