Parklife

It\’s hard to get a sense of the scale of London\’s Olympic Park. 270 acres is the size of about 135 football pitches, to use the official journalistic unit of measurement (though, apparently, football pitches also differ in size). This is not one park, but a whole new network of new green spaces in one of the most built up and complex areas of London.

Yesterday, to accompany the announcement of the Park\’s designers, London 2012 issued some material about the character and content of the Park after 2012. The plans are starting to take shape: there will be areas of woodland, open space for events, hills to challenge walkers and cyclists, and a \’One Planet Pavilion\’ to encourage environmental responsibility.

I think the Park will be incredible, but this is the first time that I have ever considered a landscape design to be bossy. This Park is not going to let us alone: it will be telling us to take more exercise, to recycle more, to appreciate native trees, to run, to cycle, to jump, to lose weight. Where\’s the space for more leisurely activities – for lazing, for smoking, for drinking, for kissing? Will the Park tell us to pack a healthier picnic, to watch out for our units, to practice safe sex? I wouldn\’t rule it out.

We can expect more homilies as the 2012 Games draw nearer. The quasi-spiritual wing of the Olympic movement is fluent in the international language of pious eyewash: children are the future, cleanliness is next to godliness, mens sana in corpore sano, we don\’t own the planet we are just borrowing it from our children (or is that Patek Philippe watches?), citius altius fortius, now wash your hands.

It\’s at times like these, to paraphrase the Beck song, that the IOC makes me want to smoke crack.

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