Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (by EDAW / AECOM, Buro Happold, Arup and WS Atkins)
Following on from my article on Olympic Interiors, public demand has compelled me to do an overview of the Olympic Venue exteriors - that is to say - the purpose-built arenas and structures made specfically for the Olympics - both permanent and temporary features. The overview photograph covers the majority of the Olympic venues which are located on the Olympic Park, just missing off the edge of the picture are the Populous-designed BMX track and the ’Eton Manor’ training centre. I also feature the ’Royal Artillery Barracks’ - a temporary venue located on Woolwich Common.
Olympic Stadium at Night (by Populous)
It’s quite strange to me that the Olympic Stadium has so many critics, I really like it - it ingeniously encompasses 2 component tiers of seating - a fixed lower terrace with a capacity of 25,000 spectators and an removable / concealable upper terrace of 55,000 seats. The Steel and Concrete structure features all manner of efficiencies in operational overheads, sustainability and environmental impact, it is also the most accessible athletics stadium built to-date. The PVC canvas wrap, tubular steel structures and triangular lighting and video support gantries - all work really well for me. I was a little non-plussed when I saw the original designs, but I must say that the finished article looks very elegant.
Olympic Stadium close-up (by Populous)
The Stadium is surrounded by water on 3 sides, and is accessed via a series of bridges. Clever LED ’pixel’ lighting has been integrated into the banks of seating, and has been used to spectacular effect during the opening ceremony - will no doubt be used in the closing ceremony too. A number of the Stadium’s facilities are sunk / built below-ground, and the atmosphere generated in the stadium has been wholly electric throughout. It employs similar mechanics to Wembley Stadium - in terms of broad access boulevards, with elegantly decorated / lit walkways - creating a magnificent spectacle on approach to the venue.
ArcelorMittal Orbit (by Anish Kappoor, Cecil Balmond and Ushida Findlay Artchitects)
The 115 meter high Orbit Observation Tower is the Eiffel Tower’s surreal / punkier little sister. I initially really liked the ambition of the project, but was at first unsure about the actual implementation. Now that I’ve had a while to soak it in, I really quite like it - with its two-tier viewing platforms accommodating 150 people apiece. It is recommended that you ascend via elevator rather than take the 455 steps. By all means feel free to walk down, but going up on foot may prove troublesome for some!
Water Polo Arena and Aquatics Centre (former by David Morley Architects, latter by Zaha Hadid Architects)
The temporary ’Water Polo Arena’ by David Morely Architects is the first dedicated Olympic venue for this sport, like many of the temporary venues, the wedge-shaped arena - which seats 5000 specators and is composed of a steel skeleton wrapped by sheets of a recyclable PVC fabric / membrane. All the seating is hired, and the structure can be rapidly dismantled with minimal environmental impact.
Aquatics Centre close-up (by Zaha Hadid Artchitects)
Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre is the emodiment of a wave, of course with the additional 2 wedge-shaped wings of seating, it does not quite look like a wave at the moment. Current seating capacity is for 17,500 spectators, but once the wings are removed, regular capacity will be at 2,500 with an additional 1,000 seats available for major events. The interior facilities consist of a the standard swimming-lanes Olympic Pool, and a separate Diving Pool with 7 diving boards at various heights.
Copper Box Arena (MAKE architects, Populous, PTW Architects, Arup)
Originally designed for Handball, the former ’Handball Arena’ was renamed the ’Copper Box’ as it also hosts the fencing stage of the Modern Pentathlon, and will accommodate the Paralympic Goalball tournament too. The 7,000 seater venue has intimate banked seating on 4 sides of the court for maximum audience appeal. Post-Olympics the venue will be adapted to become a multi-sport arean for community use, athlete training and small-to-medium scale events. Funnily enough, the Handball finals are being hosted in the larger, but temporary Basketball Arena.
Copper Box Arena close-up (MAKE architects, Populous, PTW Architects, Arup)
The Copper Box gets its name from the 3,000 square meters of mostly recycled copper cladding. Among its many innovative features, the roof of the Copper Box is fitted with 88 light pipes that allow natural light into the venue, reducing the demand for electric lights. This will achieve annual energy savings of up to 40%. A glazed concourse level also lets in light, and provides stunning illumination in the night.
Basketball Arena (by Wilkinson Eyre Architects)
The 12,000 seater Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary venues ever built for a game. Much like the Water Polo Arena and Royal Artillery Barracks it is composed of a steel frame structure wrapped in a PVC Fabric / Membrane. The steel structure features curved end-pieces which give the venue it’s architecturally interesting surface texture. Post-games the venue will be stripped-down and shipped en-massed to another location, most likely overseas.
Basketball Arena exterior with lighting (by Wilkinson Eyre Architects)
A close-up of the PVC membrane shows the curved steel end-points which create the texture. At night, interior lights give the surface a distinct arthouse look with points of light filtering through the membrane.
The Velodrome (by Hopkins Architects, Grant Associates)
The Velodrome is actually just one half of the so-called ’Velopark’, off to its side is the BMX Racing Track. The Velodrome has been quick to acquire the monicker ’The Pringle’ obviously based on it’s crisp-like roofline. This is held to be the most elegant and most successful of the purpose-built Olympic venues. The 250 metre wood-lined track is made from 56km of Siberian Pine, and the venue accommodates 6,000 spectators.
The Velodrome - alternative view (by Hopkins Architects, Grant Associates)
The venuse benefits from a 100% naturally ventilated system that eliminates the need for air-conditioning. All materials were sourced with high sustainability criteria, glass strips in the roof let in natural lightm and the roof collects rainwater which reduces mains water usage by more than 70%.
Royal Artillery Barracks Shooting Ranges (by Magma Architecture)
3 temporary venues by German firm Magma Architecture feature double-layer PVC mebrane over modular steel structures - which provide natural ventilation and light. These venues display colourful circular protrusions (an allusion to target bullseyes) - which act as tension nodes, supporting the exterior wrap and enabling the venue’s efficiency / self-sufficiency measures. There are spectator grand stands at each of the Shooting Ranges - accommodating a total of 7,500 spectators. The venues are designed to be dismantled and re-cycled with the least amount of environmental impact.