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ODA to launch velodrome comp

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) will respond to heavy criticism of its procurement strategy for London 2012 venues by announcing a design competition for the velodrome.

In what is predicted to be one of the most sought-after commissions in the capital in recent years, the Olympic velodrome will be open to design proposals from all comers by the end of the year.

The forthcoming announcement will stand in stark contrast to noises that came out of the ODA earlier this year, when chair Jack Lemley vowed to use design-and-build contracts for all the significant schemes.

The prestigious project is likely to attract most of the major names in stadium design, such as HOK Sport, Foster and Partners, S&P Architects, David Morley Architects and Atherden Fuller Leng.

However, it will also be open to smaller practices.

The promise of a design competition has been particularly welcomed by the RIBA's London chair Andrew Hanson, who claims it will be a great opportunity for smaller practices to get involved in one of the country's biggest projects.

'Obviously it's great news if it does go out for a competition,' he said. 'We want to campaign for as many projects as possible to be led by architects.

'I don't want to be critical of the process, but moves like this will hopefully stir up smaller practices to get involved in what's happening on the site.

'It is a minor stadium in the bigger picture, and we want to launch a campaign to get smaller projects like this out to competitions.'

Lemley announced the decision to choose design-and-build contracts in April this year, claiming the move would 'get the best bargain from the public purse'.

The declaration was slammed by architects as the original Olympic designs were said to have been pivotal in making up the minds of the International Olympic Committee when they selected London.

Design-led practices often argue that the design-and build contract can lead to the demotion of architectural standards in the construction process.

Although Hanson said he can understand the ODA's move towards design and build, he does not believe it should be implemented throughout the Olympic site.

'I can see how there's a risk with some of the bigger projects, in regard to timing and budgets, but with the smaller stuff they can afford to be a bit more adventurous,' he said.

The velodrome used in the 2004 Athens Olympics ( pictured above) was designed by Santiago Calatrava, and became one of the stars of the show.

And despite the ODA remaining tight-lipped over the details of the stadium competition, it is hoped the London venue will attract similar praise.

by Richard Vaughan

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