Fireworks in the Olympic Stadium – London 2012








Olympic Stadium – Opening Ceremonies, London 2012

Regardless of the type of design, any creator of art, architecture, interiors, graphics, etc. reflects his or her own experience and sense of place when creating his or her work.  What do I mean by sense of place?

“A sense of place can mean a feeling of inclusion in community, a feeling of moral obligation to care for a specific tract of land, an identity that is tied to a particular region, or a consciousness of one”s embeddedness in an ecological context.” (

I would add the built environment to this identity.

The opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, impressed me with Danny Boyle”s graphic interpretation and artistic vision of the history of Britain, and reflected his sense of place, particularly his visual references to farming and then to the Industrial Revolution.  There were so many stunning images, you would be hard-pressed to pick favorites, but I found the farming and Industrial Revolution images particularly compelling.

Of course to us Westerners, London is filled with recognizable icons of the built environment, and to highlight just a couple, and the river that they have in common:

Big Ben (built in 1859 – tower, clock and bell) and the Houses of Parliament (first built in medieval times, and then after a fire in 1834, reconstructed):

Transformed at night:

Union Flags (Union Jack) as projected on the Palace of Westminster, to the left of Big Ben (


The Tower Bridge:

Tower Bridge, London


Transformed at night:

The Tower Bridge, one of London’s iconic images


The Thames River has an identity all its own, having begun its life as a tributary 30 million years ago, to the arrival of the first settlers in the Thames Valley 400,000 years ago, to the conquests of the  Romans, Saxons and Danes, into the time of William the Conquerer in 1066 AD.  The river has seen much building along its banks, and the rise of commerce and trade.


Panorama of London and the Thames, Part 3;,-Part-Three-Showing-Southwark,-London-Bridge-And-The-Churches-In-The-City,-C.1600.html


Much later, in the 18th century, London became the world”s busiest port, with a canal system connecting the Thames in the south of England with the industrial north, which continued into the Victorian era.  Pollution and other problems arose, and were dealt with to a degree, but in the 20th century, trade on the river declined.  Leisure activities started in the Victorian era and continue today.  Pollution while still a problem into the 1950″s has been significantly reduced, with over 115 species of fish now found in the river. (Source:

“Haymaking on the Thames” by John Clayton Adams, late 19th

“Haymaking on the Thames” by John Clayton Adams, late 19th century

Thames River, London – 2009


Powerboat on the Thames, driven by David Beckham, carrying the Olympic Torch – 2012

And back to the stadium for the Opening Ceremonies…from agrarian…


The Olympic Stadium as Agrarian Landscape


Working horse…


to the Industrial Revolution:



An actor scaling a smokestack…


And finally to images of a contemporary house – to reference the modern London family….