View Tube: London's best building site
The View Tube gives visitors an incredible view of London’s Olympic Park from its bright green viewing platform. It’s just a shame it’s all temporary.
Squeezed onto a site overlooking the Olympic site, View Tube is a viewpoint, cafe, info and events centre. Built in 2009, it will stay there until 2013 at least, although it will close for the weeks around the big event.
A view across the site
Run as a social enterprise and community venue, View Tube has been built using recycled shipping containers. It was built and installed by Urban Space Management, who have a good record in creating great places using containers (like Trinity Bouy Wharf).
It’s been put together by a partnership project of Leaside Regeneration, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, the Olympic Delivery Authority and Thames Water.
But it's all only temporary
And it pushes the bar out in terms of temporary buildings. It was built in 3 months off-site in China, where the containers were cleaned and fitted. It took just two days to crane them onto the site and put them together.
So it’s brilliant environmentally sustainable. The structure is recycled, and there is motion sensor controlled lighting, solar controlled glass and weather compensation controlled heating. And as if to show off these environmental credentials, it hosts Bikeworks, which offers guided bike tours of the area and the park.
But the real selling point is the viewing gallery, which gives you a great vista of the Olympic Park. It might just be a building site - but it’s a compelling building site.
As well as the Olympic Stadium, you have a view of the bizarre ArcelorMittal Orbit, a huge sculpture and observation tower that looks over the site.
And unlike the Orbit, which visitors will have to pay to use, View Tube is accessible, open and interesting. It's great for tourists, but also locals and schools (it has its own classroom).
The only problem with You View is that it’s temporary. So what should they do with it? After the Olympics, why not move it to the next big building site so visitors can watch over the next huge development? There are plenty in London - from Battersea Power Station to Elephant and Castle.
Who knows, if they know they’re being watched, the developers might get a move on.