Stratford’s Olympic Park was recently the end-point of Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei’s march in support of refugees – the artists joined forces for a walk across London as the two strode down London’s Piccadilly accompanied by a hoard of journalists at the beginning of an eight-mile journey to show solidarity with refugees around the world – a march that Artlyst attended, ending at Kapoor’s aesthetically displeasing tower, which has been losing £10,000 every week.
Now the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has revealed that £45 million has been pledged by private donors for Olympicopolis, which is the proposed cultural quarter on part of the site of the 2012 Games. The mayor regards the project as an important element in the regeneration of Stratford and a lasting legacy from the Olympics.
Olympicopolis aims to create a world-leading cultural and educational legacy for east London in the wake of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and should create 3,000 jobs, attract 1.5 million visitors a year, and deliver a £2.8 billion boost to the economy of Stratford and the surrounding area.
UK partners include the dance venue Sadler’s Wells, the University of the Arts and University College London. Washington’s Smithsonian Institution is also expected to become a partner – along with the key partner the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Johnson, speaking at a fundraising launch at the Olympic Stadium on 5 November, confirmed that the Smithsonian is still the prospective international participant. “If the Americans can put a man on the moon, they can build a museum in Stratford”, the Mayor exclaimed lightheartedly to the audience.
Johnson continued: “Olympicopolis will bring some of the world’s leading institutions in culture and education to the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, helping ensure its status as an internationally significant destination for Londoners and people from across the globe. But we want it to do much more than that. As well as being a magnet for domestic and international visitors, the Foundation for FutureLondon’s activities will ensure that strong links will be forged with local communities so that they benefit in the long term from the creation of new jobs and the realisation of new cultural and educational opportunities.”
V&A East – the working title for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s branch – is expected to include London’s largest temporary exhibition space for the exhibition of art. Two architectural practices have been appointed to design Olympicopolis: Allies & Morrison, and O’Donnell & Tuomey.
The full cost of Olympicopolis is estimated at £850 million with the Treasury already having committed £141 million. University College London is due to provide £270 million. The Foundation for FutureLondon – which is the project’s newly created charity – needs to raise a further £135 million. Construction on Olympicopolis is due begin in 2018 with the opening date expected to be 2022.
Lead image: Ai Weiwei crosses London in support of refugees, and spies Anish Kapoor’s tower at the Olympic Park Stratford. Photo: P A Black © 2015