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Gold medal: Zaha's Olympic showstopper woos 95% of guests

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Zaha Hadid’s London 2012 Aquatic Centre has received a massive thumbs up from Games spectators

Researchers polled 185 people at the Olympic swimming events – and 95 per cent said they were satisfied with their experience.

The survey, conducted by the University of Westminster and the University of South Australia, also found that 85 per cent thought swimming had been held at the best possible venue.

Four in five questioned felt that the distinctive Aquatics Centre would be seen as a symbol of the hugely successful London Games.

Positioned at the south-eastern edge of the Olympic Park, the centre has a flexible seating arrangement. It was designed to accommodate 17,500 spectators during the Games, with a reduced capacity of 2,000 in legacy mode.

The pool hall is expressed above the podium by a large roof, which arches along the same axis as the pools.

Although only 36 per cent of people at swimming events were regular swimmers, more than half said after the races they would swim regularly for fun over the next 12 months.

But the venue was not without its controversies.

It emerged just before the Games that the sloped roofs of the venue’s wings meant a small number of seats would offer restricted views during 10 metre diving platform events.

LOCOG insisted the tickets were sold after it tested the seats and was satisfied with the views – it offered refunds to those who wanted them.

Zaha Hadid Architects said its brief was to provide 5,000 spectator seats with uninterrupted views of the 10 metre diving - and that it provided 8,000 such seats in addition to those with restricted views

Meanwhile, research also revealed that 92 per cent of visitors to the equestrian events at Greenwich Park, where the arena was designed by Allies and Morrison, and 88 per cent of tennis spectators at Wimbledon, were satisfied with their experience.

Robert Nisbet of Allies and Morrison said: ‘Allies and Morrison are delighted that Greenwich Park has been such a successful venue and has been rated so highly by Spectators.  It was a great challenge to site the venue entirely within the World Heritage Site of Maritime Greenwich, but several years of hard work with a number of stakeholders has paid off.  

‘We are very pleased to have been able to showcase both the sports of Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon and the historic setting of Greenwich in such a unique fashion.  We hope that this will bring future benefits to Greenwich, London and the sports themselves in parallel with the Legacy benefits awarded to the Stratford area.’

Mike McNicholas, London 2012 project director at Atkins which worked also on the equestrian arena said: ‘One of the distinctive features of the London 2012 Games was the way it embraced the Capital’s historic cityscape.

‘Greenwich Park is one of the most impressive examples of this, but it could only be achieved by creating a temporary arena which would allow thousands of people to watch equestrian events without having any long-term impact on this fragile, World Heritage Site.

‘The high levels of satisfaction experienced by visitors is testament to the design and engineering, including the use of a raised platform to protect the ground and provide a level field of play, which allowed the event to be staged in this location, together with the collaboration between engineers and architects to create a truly fabulous arena.’

Andrew Smith, city tourism expert at the University of Westminster, said:  ‘Those attending the events were very satisfied with their experiences and impressed with the venues.

‘Attending the 2012 Olympic Games may have changed future tourism and leisure intentions, indicating an inspiring effect of the Games.’

He sounded a note of caution, however.

‘We should remember that these results were derived from research undertaken in the positive afterglow of an event; what people say they will do is often very different from what they actually do.’



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Readers' comments (1)

  • I enjoyed my visit, but the building was not that special. It was a pity that from up in the gods, there were only two small screens located at the extremities, and no screen in the centre which would have improved the experience.

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