Legacy 2.0: how public need is reshaping Games design

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Major sporting and leisure events are under scrutiny like never before to deliver long term benefits for their host city, and the citizens within them. Host cities have been struggling to convince their citizens that they are worth the investment and the upheaval.

Hosting an event places a city in the spotlight like nothing else. But when the event is over, cities face increasing demands to demonstrate the long lasting benefits the event has delivered for its citizens. With games in the near future being awarded to cities that are largely already “games-ready” in terms of infrastructure and venues, future events carry the risk of no tangible legacy at all.

With an eye to events beyond 2020, organising committees and host cities are beginning to reconsider legacy priorities, placing a more central focus on citizen’s benefit and community value. The new era of hosting major events should be defined by the use of existing or temporary venues, maximising the host city’s operational efficiency, minimising cost and reducing the risk of unused venues post-Games. The ‘shock’ of hosting a major event has the potential to challenge a city’s resilience. But getting legacy right has the capacity to strengthen it.

Winning behaviours

It might seem an obvious question, but it’s often the unasked one: what do cities want their populations to be able to do once the games are over? Focusing on the behavioural legacy of investment is the best way to design future value. Cities need to see the games as a ‘partner’ in helping them deliver solutions to meet the growing longer-term challenges they are facing. They should be a focal point for citizen engagement and galvanise investment momentum so that the post-games infrastructure becomes part of the city’s social fabric.

So how do you design for behavioural legacy? Arup’s team have identified three tactics:

  • Urban overlay
  • Operational excellence
  • Cleaner and greener infrastructure

Activating the behaviour factor

We believe this is a cost-effective and forward-looking vision that has great potential to unlock the long-term value of major event infrastructure spending. Cities need to look at these measures to reduce costs with maximise the transformational impact of hosting the games and re-gain the support of the public.

Today we’ve got amazing new tools to design the legacy people want and need. We can develop smaller, smarter temporary venues. Connected technology can personalise and increase access to events. And sophisticated data and analytics tools are providing ever greater insights into people’s leisure habits and preferences. Together these present an opportunity to design for specific community needs, producing a valuable social legacy of which a city can be proud.

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