London Olympics has domino effect with three years to go …

Author: By Jerome Taylor

Which might explain why 600 volunteers gathered in east London yesterday to
build painstakingly ? and then topple ? an enormous trail of concrete
dominoes.

More than 12,000 breeze blocks were used to create the giant moving sculpture
which began in Mile End Park, wound its way four miles through the Isle of
Dogs, crossed under the Thames and ended up at the Old Royal Naval College
in Greenwich.

The bizarre spectacle was one of more than 750 events held across the country
to celebrate the fact that, from today the opening ceremony of the 2012
Olympics is just three years away.

Keen to drum up excitement for the games, the Olympics organisers have
organised “Open Days” for the past two years to mark the moment we
get a year closer to hosting the world’s largest sporting event. More than
700,000 people are thought to have attended this year’s Open Day, which was
designed to encourage a volunteer ethos that will be very much in demand
once the games come to Britain.

The brains behind the concrete domino trail were artists at the Station House
Opera, a performance company based in London’s Whitechapel, which won a
£40,000 commission from the Bank of America to create an art installation
which would encourage locals in the five East London boroughs hosting the
Olympics to participate in public art.

The group specialises in using concrete breeze blocks to create moving
sculptures and yesterday’s trail was the largest outdoor installation they
have done to date. “We wanted to create something that would be
participatory and showcase all the different bits of east London,” said
Hadrian Garrard, the producer of Create09, an arts festival hosted by the
five Olympic boroughs to showcase local artistic talent.

“The dominoes ran through a real cross-section of east London, from
historic buildings like the naval college at Greenwich to run-down housing
estates.”

For the organisers, the biggest challenge was to find a way of getting the
dominoes under the Thames and through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which runs
from the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs and emerges next to the
now-charred remains of the Cutty Sark. “Getting the concrete blocks to
go down the stairs wasn’t a problem, but we had to use some rather ingenious
wooden widgets to get them to topple up the staircase at the opposite end,”
said Mr Garrard.

“It worked out in the end. The best thing about installations like this
is that they encourage vast swathes of people who might not normally be
interested in public art to join in.”

This weekend’s event is likely to have been the largest breeze-block domino
run ever done. The record for the largest toppling of ordinary dominoes was
set last November in the Netherlands, at the annual Domino Festival.

10 things you didn’t know about London 2012

*The 10,000 tonnes of tubular steel being used for the Olympic Stadium could
end up being shipped over to the winners of the 2016 bid ? especially if it
is Chicago (who have already expressed an interest in the material)

*The set-piece, 200m bridge linking the centre of Stratford in east London to
the heart of the Olympic Park will be lined on both sides with boxes for
birds and bats.

*If Christine Ohuruogu wins gold in the women’s 400m, she will break the
record for the shortest distance between birthplace and site of Olympic
victory. She was born in Newham, less than a mile away.

*The best view of the Olympic Park is from a nondescript, 14-storey
residential tower block called Holden Point. It’s about a mile from
Stratford station, and completely free to enter.

*All the toilets and road signs on the biggest construction site in Europe are
being powered by small scale solar panels and wind turbines.

*Weymouth, one of the Olympic sailing venues, has been complete since November
2008.

*Half a million people need to get in and out of the Olympic Park every single
day, and organisers intend them all to use public transport, walk or cycle.
Cars are in effect going to be banished from Stratford from mid-2012.

*£100m has been spent on Stratford station to treble its size so that one
train will arrive in the Olympic Park every 15 seconds, with 12 Javelin
trains passing through Stratford International every hour.

*Apart from having its capacity reduced from 80,000 to 25,000 after the Games,
London’s stadium will be the lightest ever, and a fraction of the weight of
the Bird’s Nest.

*The undulating roof of Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre will be the architectural
flagship of the Games, has unlikely green credentials: its 3,500 square
metres are intended as “living space” to promote “biodiversity”.

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