I’ve always been fascinated by how buildings evolve and the lure of capturing the creation of the Olympic Stadium in East London’s Stratford was too tempting to resist. But where to get a good vantage point?
Back in September 2008, the industrialised wasteland that was to become the Olympic Park was strictly out of bounds, with huge earth-moving trucks and embryonic cranes cordoned off behind high mesh fences and polite but monosyllabic security guards. It didn’t look promising. However, trudging desperately around the western edge of the site, I found a chink in the defenses in the form of the Lea Valley Greenway. This elevated footpath (romantically built on top of a sewer embankment) miraculously presented a stunning view right beside the Stadium site itself — no high fences, no ‘keep out’ notices, just the perfect public spot from which to record the emergence of this iconic structure. Picking a position where I guestimated the centre of the stadium would eventually be amongst all the cranes, I took the first photographs. To get the right effect, I would have to be able to return to exactly the same spot for all subsequent photographs. I had no real hope that this could possibly happen. Surely, officialdom or Health and Safety kill-joys would blanket this off and thwart my desire to record history in the making.
For the next 3 years, I returned every few weeks to take pictures, convinced that my magic spot would have disappeared. As you will see from above, fortune smiled. Only on my final visit did I find the long-feared high mesh fences erected between the walkway and the now topped-off stadium. But one old, low, metal section still remained and hopping over this for a few seconds, I managed to capture my final shot. No hurdling gold medal perhaps but John Lewis liked the image combination enough to choose it as one of their London prints to sell for the Olympics and I have the huge satisfaction of my 3-year pilgrimage being available for all to see.
Do take a look at how these photographs can be bought as prints:
I would love to hear if anyone has captured other London iconic structures being built. The Shard for example? firstname.lastname@example.org