Business Times

Lessons for Hambantota from London’s Olympic Village planning

By Quintus Perera

The London Olympic Village is almost complete ahead of time for the 2012 Olympics with the entire project being handled by a committee that didn’t have any power on paper, one of the architects of the project told a Colombo audience recently.

Dr Francis C Duffy, former President, Royal Institute of British Architects and a leading world authority in the planning of office buildings, delivered a lecture in Colombo on ‘London Olympic Village – Challenges in City Planning’. It was jointly organised by the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS), the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL), and the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka (NASSL).

Dr Duffy, current chair of the official Review Panel overseeing the planning and development of the London Olympic Village, said that there is a moral that ‘Good things sometimes happen by accident’ and there is also another moral ‘Badly set up in the beginning – they will become worse and worse in time’. He said that his experience in the project is a happy story.

He said that they made spectacular changes in the infrastructure with the decisions of the International Olympic Committee and that work was accelerated. Though they had no power they formed into a group of advisors and selected an area – Stanford which is uninhabited - and transformed it into the London the Olympic Village.

Dr Duffy said that everything was well planned and once the Games are over, the area has been so constructed that the entire place could be used. This area has a lot of railway crossings and due to industries there, the area has been polluted. Even a tunnel is being constructed under the River Thames to reduce the time to reach Olympic venue.

The area was a railway engineering site with very heavy dirty engineering industries and high speed trains crossing to Central London. To avoid this, a 20 mile long tunnel has been built. Parks, a huge shopping complex and schools are being built in the area to be sustainable and accessible. He said that lessons could be learnt from their project to transform Hambantota (in Sri Lanka) to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.

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