MATURITA' 2012 SOLUZIONI/ Esame di Stato: svolgimento delle tracce di inglese del Liceo linguistico
Legacy or Lunacy?
1. How was the London 2012 Olympic Games supposed to be different from the Beijing one?
People thought that the London Olympics would be much more austere and less sumptuous than the Olympics in Beijing. People predicted many fewer special effects and many fewer new buildings.
2. Why was it widely believed that the architectural bubble had burst?
In China, since the government is authoritarian and the economy was booming, it was possible to do spectacular things, including building a beautiful new stadium and hiring thousands to participate in the ceremonies. On the other hand, in London, in the midst of an economic crisis, it is much more difficult to persuade taxpayers that creating something spectacular is worthwhile. The image of the bubble bursting is probably referring to the housing bubble that burst to cause the current financial crisis. It was thought that very few new buildings would be built in London for this reason.
3. What do you think the expression “more about the legacy than the fleeting spectacular” means?
It probably means that the organizers of the London Olympics, unable to provide as spectacular and expensive a show as the Chinese had in 2008, would focus on the content rather than the special effects. In this case, it could mean that there would have been less focus on the show and more focus on the actual athletic events. This could have been the legacy, what would be remembered, of these Games.
4. Why did the London Olympics organizers become nervous?
They became nervous because they did not want people to view them as cheap. This could have a bad effect on their reputation and the reputation of their country.
5. By how much has the initial cost increased?
The initial cost has increased to three times more, from three billion pounds to nine billion.
6. What is meant by “a piece of spectacular starchitecture”?
“Starchitecture”, a combination of the words star and architecture, is used in reference to the new aquatics centre built for the London Olympics. This word is probably used to indicate the fact that it is a building built by a star, Zaha Hadid is in fact mentioned, but also the fact that it is more than a building. It is supposed to be a work of art in itself, perhaps even more about its look than its functionality.
7. In the author’s opinion, what is wrong with the stadium and the aquatics centre?
The author considers the stadium completely useless, as London apparently has many stadiums that could easily have been used for the Games. He calls it a “fine, functional stadium for a city that doesn’t need it”. The aquatics centre, on the other hand, is something that is needed in the city, since the author states that there are not very many Olympic-standard pools and this one will be in a poor, deprived neighborhood. However, he also states that the pool will be extremely expensive to maintain. Thus, these buildings, according to the author, probably cannot be justified in this time of crisis.
8. Why is the author complaining about too much architecture?
The author complains about too much architecture because it seems to him that it is wasteful and unnecessary to build these new buildings, which will cost so much in construction, upkeep and management, in a time when other buildings that are much more useful (he cites libraries and sports fields) are being closed for lack of funds. He says that these buildings will become like a desolate “wasteland”, closed and empty of life, soon after the Games.
Summarize the content of the article in about 150 words.
This article comments on the preparation for the London Olympics. While in China, for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the huge expenditure of money was possible thanks to an authoritarian government and a booming economy, the architectural bubble has since burst, and London is in the midst of a crisis. While many expected the Games to be much less spectacular than the Beijing Games because of this, the organizers are anxious not to appear stingy, and so they have increased their initial budget and are planning to build many impressive structures. The author describes the main creation, the new aquatics centre, as something that is needed, but which will have huge costs in upkeep, and the new stadium, which seems completely useless and to be a huge waste of taxpayer dollars in a time of crisis. The author comments on what legacy this will leave in the city, predicting that the new structures will be left empty and lifeless, and the city will be more desolate than before.