View of construction skyline Olympic Games London 2012

PART 1: Re-construction of London’s East End

Case Study – Olympic Games London 2012


The recent introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022 and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 are the next big step that will change the landscape of fire safety management. The concern over health and safety in construction is very much a live subject. As mentioned in one of the topics within this case study, safety culture is not just about laying blame, but more importantly about sharing success to help us learn, and to empower and encourage others to do the same.

The Olympic Games London 2012 reported an accident rate below the industry average due to safe working practices, concern for worker welfare and a priority for sustainability. Yet, having not learned from this, we still see tragedy occur; a case in point being the fire at Grenfell Tower, London, 2017. Exaggerated by flammable cladding and ineffective fire doors in the building, the investigation into this disaster is what brought about these new legislations.

Here, we’ve summarised some of the conclusions and findings following the impact of the Games 10 years later, not only in relation to construction and whether it was the exemplar project the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) set out for it to be, but also the effect of this prestigious event on the UK, and the reasons for its success.

As expected with such a significant event, there’s a huge amount of content to cover, so, we’ve broken this down into a series of 3 articles:

Part 1:   Changing the East End

Part 2:   Changing the Safety Culture of Construction

Part 3:   Changing Technology

If you would prefer to read all three pieces together please email to request a copy.


Changing the East End

In July 2005, London was selected as the host city for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics of 2012, the only country to host three Olympic Games.

Involving 204 nations, over 10,000 athletes and 302 events across 26 sports, the foundation of the 2012 Games was to “inspire a generation”. More than 7million tickets were sold.

Each bidding city had hoped to win the bid to boost its international reputation. Previous host countries, however, have experienced negative after-effects of hosting the event, including issues such as useless venues, but London vowed that this wouldn’t be their legacy. Yes, it was an opportunity to promote the UK, but more locally it was a chance to regenerate the East End.

For London, the 2012 Olympic Legacy centred around:

– Boosting economic opportunity with new trade, investment, and jobs

– Encouraging increased participation in sports, particularly at school level

– Inciting social change

– Regenerating East London – reusing new venues, providing new homes and improving transportation in the region.

It is believed that the focus on youth engagement, sustainability, and regeneration was the differentiating factor that helped London win the bid. The influence upon the nation’s participation in sporting activities may be inconclusive, however, there is significant evidence to support the changed landscape of London, UK construction, and more.


The case for the East End
Aerial view of Stratford, East London
Stratford, East London

During WW2 Stratford was subject to bombing and approximately a quarter of the area was destroyed. Furthermore, deindustrialisation in the late 20th Century resulted in severe economic decline, although once a working-class industrial hub, areas like Stratford suffered.

Having become one of the most deprived areas in London, and the country, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games was an opportunity to reverse the situation.

Just a few miles from London the area offered space and opportunity, brownfield sites were readily available, and rivers could be restored. Substantial redevelopment was required, the focus of the project centring around the 490-acre Olympic Park.

The complex included various sporting venues, accompanied by supporting facilities such as the Olympic Village (accommodation), a media centre, and a public park. What was once the contaminated industrial waste land of Stratford is now a reformed landscape:

Examples of social impact:

– The East Village, previously accommodation to 22,500 athletes and officials and the largest sustainable homes project in the UK, has since provided a new residential district offering low cost and private housing, along with shops, bars, and restaurants,

– The Aquatics Centre remains as a community leisure and fitness centre, as well as offering a world class training facility for elite athletes,

– The Olympic Park became the largest new urban parkland in Europe for over 150 years, visited by over 1million people every year and including more than 35km of pathways and cycleways, 6.5km of waterways in addition to 4,300 trees, playgrounds, and parks,

– Over 35,000 of the 70,000 London Games Makers continue to volunteer in their communities.

Examples of economic impact:

– The Olympic Stadium, now London Stadium, has been re-configured and is the home of West Ham Football Club as well as hosting other sporting events,

– Transport for London invested £6.5billion to upgrade the transport infrastructure,

– The Westfield shopping centre created 10,000 permanent new jobs, of which approx. 2,000 local people were previously unemployed.

One of the core objectives of the London 2012 bid was that some of the new facilities would be re-used in their Olympic form, whilst others would be re-sized, re-purposed or re-located. The residing developments have not only transformed the region with new homes, new jobs and new industry but have also spurred continued development in the area.

These, and the physical changes throughout London’s East End, are easy to see, but there’s far more to it…