Monday, 21 March 2011

Olympic makeover

After the flame is extinguished, the flags lowered and the last medals awarded the Olympic roadshow will move on from London to focus on Rio de Janeiro. But the organisers of London 2012 are hoping that the games will leave more than memories - the legacy of the spectacle has been at the heart of the project since the bid's inception.

From 2013 the Olympic Park will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The whole site covers 513 acres, making it a little larger than the Regent's Park (410 acres) and slightly smaller than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (whose combined area is 625 acres). The area of new open space in the Olympic Park will be 250 acres, which is 37 acres more than its close neighbour to the west, Victoria Park.  

Between the Olympic Park and Stratford lies the vast hulk of Westfield Stratford City. Although the development features housing, offices and leisure, the main feature is some 1,900,000 sq ft (177,000 m2) of new retail space. It will be the UK's largest shopping centre - beating its sister centre in Shepherd's Bush (1,614,600 sq ft), close rivals Bluewater (1,675,955 sq ft), Lakeside (1,434,000 sq ft) and even the UK's previous current title holder the Metro Centre (1,818,000 sq ft).

It is, however, a tiddler compared to the world's biggest mall. The South China Mall in Dongguan, China is a whopping 6.4m sq ft but has become a symbol for excess - it stands largely empty, with only 1% of space let.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Red alert

This week the Japanese nuclear authorities announced that the partial meltdowns at four of Fukushima I's reactors would be raised to a 'category 5' incident. I had never come across this scale before and, whilst it clearly relates to the seriousness of the incident, I didn't know what it was out of, or what the criteria were. 

The scale is the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). It was introduced in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is designed to enable clear communication on nuclear incidents. The scale has eight levels from level 0 to level 7. There has only been one level 7 incident (Chernobyl) and one level 6 incident (Kyshtym) (both in the former Soviet Union). 

Fukushima joins Three Mile Island (USA), Windscale (UK) and Chalk River (Canada) on the list of level 5 incidents at nuclear power plants.

Japan in 'battle against time' says IAEA