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The Big Three

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A lightweight stadium, a daylit Velodrome and a pool that pioneers low-carbon concrete

The Olympic Stadium represents a sea change in stadium design. Populous’ entire rationale behind the design stemmed from the dual premise of temporary architecture and lightweight construction. The structure for the roof and upper tiers of temporary seating were decoupled from the permanent concrete bowl so that they could be dismantled independently. Food and hospitality concessions were pulled out of the structure to make it more compact.

If the decision to convert the entire stadium to a permanent structure were taken, alterations in keeping with the lightness of the original design would be most consistent with the environmental message of the Games. This could be an opportunity to introduce elements such as a solar roof fabric or rainwater harvesting, which were unaffordable in a temporary venue. (AJ 07.04.11)

The Velodrome, London 2012’s flagship green building, is an outstanding example of integrated design. The most innovative aspect of the Velodrome is its tensile cable-net roof structure, which was made possible by early contractor engagement at Stage C. Initial costing had indicated that a conventional steel structure was more economical, but more detailed analysis revealed that the cable-net option enabled a cost saving of £1.5 million and shortened the programme by 20 weeks.

It also significantly reduced the embodied carbon in the building. Hopkins Architects’ carefully considered rooflights and natural ventilation also reduce operational energy loads. A targeted approach to services employs underfloor heating to keep cyclists on the track warm, while modular air-handling units under the seating tiers keep spectators comfortable. (AJ 22.09.11)

The Aquatics Centre is the only London 2012 venue whose architect, Zaha Hadid Architects, was selected before the environmental strategy for the Games was fully formulated, before, even, London winning the bid in 2005. Compelling visualisations of its wave-like roof were instrumental in securing the Games for London.

Afterwards, the building underwent a significant redesign, which saw the roof simplified and two temporary stands of seating incorporated. Its form a given, structural and services engineers were tasked with delivering as efficient a building as possible. Extensive trialling of low-carbon concrete established precedents for use of recycled aggregates and GGBS in fair-faced concrete.

London 2012: Sustainable Design:
Delivering a Games Legacy


This book by Hattie Hartman is published by John Wiley & Sons, £49.99.

For a 25% discount for AJ readers, go to www.wiley.com and enter promotion code VB802

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