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[personal profile] heinel
The British wartime poster is what greeted me when I first set foot inside the Vancouver Olympic Village. Of course, it is no longer about air-raids anymore. The occasion is that as assistants to foreign officials we will have to put up with people who do things differently. So the golden advice is supposed to keep us from raging and embarrassing ourselves (and possibly by extension, Canada) in front of Very Important People. Well, it is more than that. It is also supposed to ineffectively ward off the anxiety – Oh My God I already forgot the layout of the... What's it called again? – and the excitement – I wonder what those athletes look like, I guess I can't pet them, but at least standing close is okay? Right? Right?

The Olympic village looks awesome indeed. We met in a hall that is right by the water. Open the window glass door and you are just a feet away from the surface. After some briefing we get to check out the NOC Services Centre (I remember it now). It looks like an office, I guess. It is a wide hall divided up into small rooms and narrow corridors. They are still filling the place but most of the rooms have furniture and fixture. The walls are clinically white. Everything is portable. They give the place a transitory feeling. I stand surrounded by busy phones ringing and people to and fro. This is the headquarters of one of the main supportive functions behind the scene. A couple months later this will be a supermarket. I guess it will be just as busy as it is now.

Most of the rooms, be it for meeting or screening purposes, have the same layout. There are the same gray desks, surrounded by the same gray chairs, with the same gray telephones on top, and some rooms have black TVs. Speaking of TV, the same black TV is in our break area, too. We also have the same white fridge, and pillows! Orange and Green, they're the only things that have color in that place. I often wear black and white or gray myself, but when I walk into the building everything look standard. They put up the bare minimum needed for function and the place is entirely void of personal touch. The pillows look like an oasis in that maze of an office. If only they have a purple one, I'm so all over that.

We also get to tour the village. The architectural style is inspiring. Each building has a distinct color scheme and shape, but they have shared elements. Most of them make heavy use of wall windows, even those that don't have a water view. The primary shape is quadrangle, on some buildings there are wavy elements on some walls. They all look very modern, except the lounge. It is made to look like a shipyard, bright red like a fire truck. The plaza area also have lighting elements that, as I am told, are meant to look like the hull of ships. They said False Creek used to extend to what is now land, and the lights are made to commemorate that. One of the main roads within the village is called Walter Hardwick Avenue. He must be special if a road is named after him. I googled him up and it turns out that he was indeed a very distinguished community leader, especially for the False Creek area. The roofs of the buildings are all organic. Some have solar panels on them. Some are developed into community gardens. This is one of the ways the village is built with sustainability in mind. We are often reminded that sustainability is part of the village's identity.

The Olympic Village will be a residence after the Games. The head office of the Chinese delegation, for example, is a penthouse suite with a 180 degree panorama of the False Creek vista. When I first got up there it was dark, but I could see, through the glass walls, city lights flickering just beyond the wrap-around balcony big enough to host three parties together at once. Walk out and you have just set foot in the observation area on Cypress mountain resort – with a different point of view.

Apparently, there will also be a daycare area with a similar scenic view. Yes, the kids are not forgotten. One can tell from the appearance alone that this is high living. It is interesting to note that just beyond the parameter the neighborhood is one of warehouses and dirty warehouses. The contrast is in the air.


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April 2010

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