The 2012 Summer Olympic in London, England have taken precedents from two successful Olympic host cities: Japan in 1964 and Barcelona in 1992. The comparative infrastructure and organization of these two host cities are analyzed in conjunction with the upcoming 2012 Olympics in London. Each of the host cities played a significant role in the way future host cities would function and London is forging its own path with the introduction of sustainability in the realm of urban renewal.
T o k y o , J a p a n
The 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics represented an end to an era campaigned by conflict and combat as the Japanese became acclimated to the world community once again after years of isolation and solitude. In order to initiate Japan’s reemergence in the world spectrum, the Olympics became a medium to celebrate this notion of total liberalization of outbound travel for the first time since 1859. To the Japanese the Olympics defined the moment Japan evolved to recognize and celebrate Japan’s progress. Tokyo, who had been denied approval to host the 1960 Summer Games due to the drastic failing infrastructure from the war-torn years prior, applied for the 1964 Summer Games and won on the IOC’s first vote in 1958. Domestically, the result was met with mixed feelings from many Japanese. Sports and government were very enthusiastic; however, many were apprehensive about the financial cost of hosting the Olympics so soon after the devastation of World War II. Tokyo, like many other Japanese cities had been ravaged from U.S. air strike operations that not only took a toll on the infrastructure but completely dismantled Japan’s economy. With the decision on May 26th, 1959 that Tokyo was to be the site of the Games of the XVIII Olympiad, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) took the initial steps to form a Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, an organized committee to set rules and guidelines for the organization of the Olympic Games, in accordance with the Olympic Charter. All functions and powers concerning the operation of the Olympic Games so entrusted by the IOC were reassigned from that date to this Organizing Committee. The Organizing Committee became instrumental in organizing the logistics of this immense event. The most basic of necessities such as transportation and housing had to be considered as well as the different types of venues and their location to one another. There was a definite choreography that went into the preparation and production of the facilities and venues. The community that surrounded the venues had begun its own reconfiguration and the Olympics became a catalyst into urban restoration of the area. Tokyo used the event to gather stimulus to an already proposed ten year development plan, involving road improvements, harbor development, housing and tourist accommodation projects, water supply, sewage disposal plants and public health improvements.
JAPAN POST U.S. AIR STRIKE :
JAPAN URBAN LANDSCAPE (BEFORE & AFTER) :
URBAN RENEWAL – TOTAL COST | US $2.8 Billion : 230 Billion Yen
Washington Heights, Olympic Village Tokyo International Airport at Haneda
The New Tokaido Railway Line The Hamamatxo-Cho Overpass
B a r c e l o n a , S p a i n
Barcelona, Spain, host of the 1992 Summer Games of the XXV Olympiad, would go from a debilitating depression to economic boom from their nomination in 1986 to the organization and commencement of the Games in 1992. The 1964 Summer Games held in Tokyo, Japan were all too familiar of this type of significant shift for a country and Barcelona wanted to follow in the same footsteps of its predecessor. Barcelona is a Mediterranean city, and as the heart of the industrialization efforts in Spain it had become the apex of the social, political, and cultural movements of contemporary Spain. Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, and its capital of Barcelona are thought to be autonomous entities of Spain. As a result, one of the primary goals for the event organizers was to find a balance between the promotion of Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spanish culture on a worldwide stage. Giving fair recognition to both Spanish culture and Catalan culture was of particular concern and finding the perfect balance in the representation of both cultures was very important. This successful action caused Catalan culture to become expressed and viewed on a global scale, and at the same time it seemed to be universally acknowledged that Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain, were all of equal importance as a host. The 1992 Games were the most highly attended Olympics in history, in terms of both countries and athletes. The Olympics gave the country a reason to invest in the city because its organizers felt that it would be an opportunity to promote Catalan culture, which was relatively unknown at that time, and enhance the city´s image abroad. If it were not for the Olympic Games it would probably have taken decades to achieve the transformation of the city that was achieved in just a few years. Barcelona had a specific problem of supporting itself and upholding the economic responsibilities of being a large metropolis without the monetary benefit of being a political capital. Prior to the Olympics coming to Barcelona, the expansion of the city of Barcelona was contributed to the arrival of the 1888 and 1929 World Exposition putting Barcelona on the global stage. However, in 1959 Barcelona had a new mentality towards economic growth and urban framework. By 1975, Spain had entailed a general economic decline causing Barcelona to enter a period of steady deterioration. The difficulties were amassing; aggravated by the transfer of industrial employment outsourced to outside of the city, the stagnation of the population, and decreased political activity. Contextually, the best way to stimulate the city’s economy would occur through expansion in urban renovation and generate external production, which is exactly what the Olympics Game did for Tokyo, Japan. The 1992 Barcelona Summer Games created that shift in the economy and allowed for a generative urban enhancement plan to transform the framework of the city. Barcelona Rondas or ring-roads, the re-opening of the city to its seafront via construction of the Olympic Village, the transformation of the beaches, the creation of a range of new urban sub-centres and the Olympic facilities at Montjuïc, the Diagonal, and Vall d’Hebron were instrumental in the urban renewal process.
URBAN RENEWAL | TOTAL COST – U.S. $8.01 Billion : 956 Billion Spanish Pesetas
Barcelona Rondes (Ring-Road) 22@
Olympic Facilities at Montjuic Vall d’Hebron
L o n d o n , E n g l a n d
As with its predecessor’s, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England wanted to forge a new legacy in the realm of social and environmental innovation. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) wanted to use the idea of creating the most successful global event with the least amount of carbon footprint. They are billing the 2012 Summer Olympics as the most sustainable event ever. With sustainability being embedded in the bid, a commitment was issued to use venues already existing in the United Kingdom where possible in order to decrease the amount of construction costs and the reduce amount of carbon footprint. LOCOG instituted regulations pertaining to the construction methods undertaken in order to resemble the successful nature of ’92 Barcelona Games and ’64 Japan Games. Committee members instituted that construction will only occur to create permanent structures that will have a long-term use after the Games. For all other structures, temporary buildings would be conceived. The London Olympic Committee wanted to use the Games as a catalyst for change, for the regeneration of and improvement of quality of life in East London and encourage more sustainable living in a society that has become dependent on cars and devices which seem to leave an imprint on the environment. The London 2012 Sustainability Plan highlights how the significance of sustainability, generally a contemporary subject about the capacity to endure, can be incorporated for the Olympic Games just as their host predecessors had done with different successful plans. The Sustainability Plan focuses on five key themes: Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring legacy facilities are able to cope with the impacts of climate change, minimizing waste at every stage of the project; ensuring no waste is sent to landfill during Games-time, and encouraging the development of new waste processing infrastructure in East London; minimizing the impact of the Games on wildlife and their habitats in and around Games venues, leaving a legacy of enhanced habitats where the Olympic Park can become an enhancement to the area; promoting access for all and celebrating the diversity of London and the United Kingdom, creating new employment, training and business opportunities; and inspiring people across the country to take up sport and develop active, healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
The plan of sustainability must be taken in a more realistic sense which London has not fully conceived. How is sustainability evaluated in terms of being “the greenest Olympics ever?” Sustainability was not an issue at play with Barcelona and Tokyo to the degree it has been in London. Although notions of urban development and infrastructure repairs have been introduced in Barcelona and Tokyo, London has forged a new plan with implementing the science of sustainability within its design. Since this is a modern idea being presented at a global scale there are much more ramifications that need to be discussed in order to understand what is indeed successful. The amount of success needs to be consistent with the way London identifies what sustainability actually means. LOCOG has addressed ways of making the Olympics more functional and cost effective but those are minor components to the ambiguous and large topic of sustainability. They have not defined what sustainability actually is. Sustainability is more than just solar panels, LEED charts, and green design it must assimilate itself with the social structure of society and also a psychological change of idea within the community to accept the ideologies of the plan. Having an Olympics is an inherently unsustainable thing to do in all actuality. The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal were overall social and financial disasters that did nothing to rebuild the city infrastructure. Montreal squandered most of the profits in ill-advised investments in embellished venues and corporate allegiances. Atlanta did basically nothing in terms of urban renewal. They disregarded homelessness and created legalities against homeless people in Atlanta. With the passage of a new ordinance and stricter enforcement of a number of anti-loitering and panhandling ordinances, they were increased efforts to remove homeless people from the streets. Rather than build the city through the internal improvements of the social structure and infrastructure, Atlanta basically relegated most of its wealth into commercial investments. To build venues at the scale of monstrosities requires us to acknowledge if it is good enough just to have some great sustainable venues and put on a sustainable game which we are increasingly confident about the idea. London must realize the success of these Olympic Games will create a precedent for years to follow the same way Barcelona and Tokyo have. They must also realize that it may turn into a precedent in the way Atlanta and Montreal have.
Urban D|Envelope|ment is all about the idea of encasement. With the introduction of a global event at the magnitude of the Olympics, Urban D|Envelope|ment allows each of the host communities the ability to recreate the scenery of their environment. The extent of the urban developments are enclosed within the host communities, yet the financial affects are spread at the national level. This blurs the boundaries of how far reaching the Olympics can be from a singular aspect, to community aspects, to a national aspect. Communities are enveloped with the resources to improve to the point where it becomes a reemergence of a community. With the introduction of Urban D|Envelope|ment into society, it can be seen to help communities immediately in the short term (employment, tourism, etc.) but essentially have the capability to long term advantages which are presented at a more national level (transportation system, community programs, infrastructural development, housing, etc.). The main strategy for Urban D|Envelope|ment is to become more acclimated with the new innovations being introduced into society and then reaping the benefits (or detriments). Barcelona and Tokyo are two examples of communities that used the idea Urban D|Envelope|ment successfully by appropriating correct investments within the rebuilding and restructuring of their respective cities. Time is the only thing restricting us from seeing the same improvements in London
[ atlanta, barcelona, London, Montreal, Olympics, Summer Olympics, sustainability, Tokyo, Urban Development, Urban D|Envelope|ment, Urban Renewal ]