As I walked around East Village in Stratford recently, it dawned on me that this place was no longer a piece of the city that was undergoing transformation. Admittedly, there are still a number of development parcels under construction and future phases to be brought forward, but the long-term vision of East Village is now a reality. It has become integral part of the fabric of the city in its own right.
It was a surreal feeling for me. As I meandered through the generous expanses of public realm it was as if I was participating in the conceptual CGIs, artists’ impressions and animations that were produced 20 years ago, when Stratford was unrecognisable from today’s environment. Families were utilising the barbecue areas and dancing to music. Children were running around the lawns playing in the temporary sprinklers that water the grass. Individuals were reading and relaxing under the shade of the maturing trees. The outdoor gym was being used for one-on-one sessions (socially distanced, of course) whilst we enjoyed an amazing ice cream from one of the independent retailers. The over-used clichés were happening right before my eyes!
East Village is no longer defined by the collection of buildings that have been built over the last ten years. The buildings have, however, created a backdrop to the vibrant and energetic urban life at street level. It is the cohesion of the public realm and the community that means that East Village can now be defined as a truly great piece of the city.