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Whose Olympics? Transformations in urban open spaces and the legacy of London in 2012

GCSC Theme: Olympic Legacy

Lead: Matthew Wood-Hill (UCL Development Planning Unit)

Main collaborators:

Gynna Millan (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Steph Patton (UCL Anthropology, Manager, MyStreet: Doc in a Day, Open City London)
Dr Michael Stewart (UCL Anthropology)

Additional collaborators: Etienne von Bertrab (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Prof Muki Haklay (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)

Project: This project seeks to explore the potential of visual mapping methodologies (video and social media) to understand the impact of the London 2012 Olympics on open spaces in the city. The project therefore seeks to capture the ‘moment in time’ nature that the event provides to explore the specific questions ‘Whose Olympics? And whose London in 2012?'

GCSC (Wood-Hill) Whose Olympics?

The contentious use and ownership of open spaces in London is receiving increasing attention in the public eye. Since 2008 the Justice in the Green project has explored mapping techniques on the fringes of the Olympic site, revealing certain disconnects between legacy planners’ intentions and the aspirations of local residents and users of open spaces. Attention given to the Games has not focused explicitly on the changing importance of urban open spaces in enabling greater inclusion in the Olympic experience.

The project will operate through an online platform hosted by the established MyStreetFilms portal created by UCL Anthropology in association with Open City London. Our proposed platform, ‘MyOlympics’, will use this existing network to call for contributions from members of the public to visually map how open spaces in London are being transformed by the Olympics and related events, and how individuals are specifically experiencing these spaces during and immediately after the Games as the legacy begins to take shape. The anticipation in the build-up to the Olympics and the ‘feel good factor’ generated during the event ensures a high level of public and media interest. What happens in the period immediately after the event offers fertile grounds for continued research.