The Olympic Park architecture includes Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre, Hopkins Architects’ Velodrome, and the athletics stadium designed by Populous. Make Architects/Populous designed the Copper Box, for handball and fencing, which will become a multi-purpose sports centre. Service buildings include (as well as Allies and Morrison’s Media Centre) John McAslan’s Olympic Energy Centre, and John Lyall Architects’ Olympic Park Pumping Station to channel grey waste. Two reusable structures are Wilkinson Eyre’s Basketball Stadium in the Olympic Park, and Magma Architecture’s Shooting Range, sited in Woolwich.
Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond / Ushida Findlay Architects: Archelor Mittal Orbit
It includes additional sculptural elements by Kapoor: A canopy at the base has a concave floor with a view through a funnel looking up from dark to light. On the upper level of the viewing platform two concave mirrors are placed on the external walkway to invert the horizon and visitors will be able to look down through a central rectangular void or annulus.
Zaha Hadid’s The London Aquatic Centre
Legacy value? Post-Games, its temporary box additions will be removed to create a 3,500 capacity venue.
Populous with Peter Cook: London 2012 Olympic Stadium
Legacy value? It has a capacity of 80,000 seats but has been designed to shrink to become a modest 25,000 capacity athletics venue, or more likely, rebuilt as a soccer stadium for West Ham United (or more improbably the original O’s, Leyton Orient).
Hopkins Architects: London 2012 Velodrome
The £93m velodrome has been dug out to create a hidden bowl and stadium, and the velopark is set on raised landscape, which suggests a shrine for a Tibetan sky burial. The structure is, however, more urban in concept and the architects were inspired by the bicycle as the epitomy of ergomomic and engineering efficiency.
Legacy value? The stadium has 6000 seats and is one of the permanent additions to the Olympic Park.
Magma Architecture: Olympic Shooting Venue
The three shooting ranges at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich are contemporary architectural fairground tents. The façades of the three structures have a white, PVC membrane each demarcated with vibrant red, pink and blue coloured holes protruding from the skin to provide natural ventilation and lighting.
Disarmingly, the coloured circles might be described as giant bullet holes, a case of architectural expression encapsulating the activity of the shooting competition.
Legacy value? These are flexible, sustainable, landmark buildings that will be reassembled for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Make Architects with PTW and Ove Arup and Partner: Olympic Handball Arena
Clad in recycled copper, the look of the Handball Arena will evolve as the surface becomes patinated. The interior features flexible, retractable seating that can accommodate a wide variety of events besides handball: basketball, badminton, boxing, martial arts, netball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby, and volleyball. Sustainable features include “light pipes” installed in the ceiling that mimic natural light and a rainwater harvesting system.
Designed to be both permanent and flexible, the Copper Box is a new multi-use sports centre for the London community. When under construction, the building was known simply as the Handball Arena until the exterior copper cladding was afixed.
Monica Bonvicini. RUN: Three nine-metre tall letters forming the word ‘RUN’ situated on the plaza of the 6,500-capacity Copper Box – the London 2012 Handball Arena.
SKM/Wilkinson Eyre/KSS Design Group: Olympic Basketball Arena
One of the largest temporary venues ever built for the Olympic Games, the Basketball Arena will seat 12,000 under a steel frame wrapped in 20,000 m2 of white recyclable PVC membrane.
During the events, lighting will animate this surface. Following the Olympic Games, the structure can be disassembled and elements can be reused elsewhere for other events.
ExCeL Grimshaw Architects: Excel Exhibition Centre (Phase II)
Since 2001, motorhomes, bikes, baby carriages, and yachts have been shown off at the ExCeL conference and exhibition center. Construction events like ecobuild regularly take place here. For the London 2012 games, however, ExCeL becomes the site of the largest number of competitions, including boxing, weightlifing, fencing, wrestling, and table tennis.
Through adaptive reuse, ExCeL exhibits five sports arenas—with no construction required. That’s versatile and flexible architecture.
Greenwich Park has been used for sports since King Henry VIII hunted deer here. Located about 20 minutes from central London, the venue for the 2012 Olympic equestrian events offers riders and horses an historic backdrop from which to compete. A cross-country course with over 42 jumps and water obstacles makes use of much of the 74 hectares (183 acres). A temporary arena was constructed in April 2012 for dressage and jumping events. As shown here, the removable arena consists of a dirt-covered platform made from plywood, aluminium, and steel held above ground by over 2,000 pillars.
With 90,000 seats, standing almost four times the height and covering twice the area of the original, the new stadium is the largest covered arena in the world. Facilities are designed to maximise spectator enjoyment; seats are larger than the old ones, with more leg-room; the highest tiers are easily accessed via escalators; and the concourse that wraps around the building provides catering for up to 40,000 spectators at any one time.
One of the things that make the stadium special is the retractable roof, which ensures that the spectator experience is comfortable in all weathers.
The Athletes’ Village will house over 17,000 athletes and incorporate dining and shopping and the communal spaces and courtyards reflective of London’s housing traditions. When the Olympics are over, the complex will provide affordable housing for East London residents.
During the games, many athletes will live within walking distance of these sporting venues. One striking residence within the Olympic Village is a stone building with bas-relief images of ancient Greek athletes.