London 2012 Olympics Aquatics Centre
The London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects is an indoor facility with two 50-metre (160-foot) swimming pools and a 25-metre (82-foot) diving pool in Olympic Park at Stratford, London, it will be one of the main venues of the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics. The centre will be used for the swimming, diving and synchronised swimming.
It was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid in 2004 before London won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The centre was built alongside the Water Polo Arena, and opposite the Olympic Stadium on the opposite bank of the Waterworks River. The site is 45 metres (148 feet) high, 160 metres (520 feet) long and 80 metres (260 feet) wide. The roof is stated to be 11,200 square feet (1,040 m2), a reduction from the previously stated 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2).
The complex has a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool and a 50m warm-up pool. The 50m pool is 3 meters deep, like the one in the Beijing National Aquatics Center in order to be fast. Its floor can be moved to reduce the depth. There are also moveable booms that allow its size to be changed.The diving pool has platform boards at heights of 3m, 5m, 7.5m and 10m and three 3m springboards.
The architectural concept of the London Aquatic Centre is inspired by the fluid geometries of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment that reflect the riverside landscapes of the Olympic Park. An undulating roof sweeps up from the ground as a wave – enclosing the pools of the Centre with a unifying gesture of fluidity, while also describing the volume of the swimming and diving pools.
The Aquatics Centre is designed with an inherent flexibility to accommodate 17,500 spectators for the London 2012 Games in ‘Olympic’ mode while also providing the optimum spectator capacity of 2000 for use in ‘Legacy’ mode after the Games.
The Aquatics Centre is within the Olympic Park Masterplan. Positioned on the south eastern edge of the Olympic Park with direct proximity to Stratford, a new pedestrian access to the Olympic Park via the east-west bridge (called the Stratford City Bridge) passes directly over the Centre as a primary gateway to the Park. Several smaller pedestrian bridges will also connect the site to the Olympic Park over the existing canal.
The Aquatic Centre addresses the main public spaces implicit within the Olympic Park and Stratford City planning strategies: the east-west connection of the Stratford City Bridge and the continuation of the Olympic Park along the canal.
The Aquatics Centre is planned on an orthogonal axis that is perpendicular to the Stratford City Bridge. All three pools are aligned on this axis. The training pool is located under the bridge with the competition and diving pools located within the large pool hall enclosed by the roof. The overall strategy is to frame the base of the pool hall as a podium connected to the Stratford City Bridge.
This podium element contains of a variety of differentiated and cellular programmes within a single architectural volume which is seen to be completely assimilated with the bridge. The podium emerges from the bridge to cascade around the pool hall to the lower level of the canal.
The pool hall is expressed above the podium by a large roof which arches along the same axis as the pools. Its form is generated by the sightlines of the 17,500 spectators in its Olympic mode. Double-curvature geometry has been used to generate a parabolic arch structure that creates the unique characteristics of the roof. The roof undulates to differentiate between the volumes of competition pool and the diving pool. Projecting beyond the pool hall envelope, the roof extends to the external areas and to the main entrance on the bridge that will be the primary access in Legacy mode. Structurally, the roof is grounded at 3 primary positions with the opening between the roof and podium used for the additional spectator seating in Olympic mode, then in-filled with a glass façade in Legacy mode.
The construction contract was awarded to Balfour Beatty in April 2008. At the same time, it was reported that the centre would cost about three times as much as was originally estimated, totalling about £242 million. The cost increases were attributed to construction inflation and VAT increases, and also included the estimated cost of converting the facility for public use after the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Despite the cost increases, the centre should stay within the total construction budget for the event, which was an estimated £6.09 billion.
The design demonstrates the precast-concrete skills with by exposing the concrete finish rather than painting or cladding which was provided by Peri. The precast floor terracing was manufactured by Bell & Webster Concrete in Lincolnshire, England. The terracing units were delivered and positioned to accelerate the speed of construction. The unique six-board diving platform is made from 462 tonnes of concrete. The aluminium roof covering was provided by Kalzip. The steel structure was built in cooperation with Rowecord Engineering, of Newport, Wales. The ceiling was built with 30,000 sections of Red Lauro timber. The steel roof weighs 3,200 tonnes. The three pools hold around 10 million litres (2.6 million gallons) of water.
During the games the venue will have a capacity of 17,500. The two temporary “wings” will be removed post-games reducing the capacity to a regular 2,500, with an additional 1,000 seats available for major events.
It is expected that the centre will leave a legacy of replacing the pools at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in South London as the city’s leading facility for aquatic sports.
Zaha Hadid Architects
The London Aquatic Centre is designed to accommodate the London 2012 Olympic Games whilst also providing the optimum size and capacity for use in legacy mode beyond the event.
The site is positioned on the south eastern edge of the Olympic Park with direct proximities to Stratford and new pedestrian access from Stratford City Bridge crossing over it.
Its design addresses the main public realm spaces implicit within the Olympic Park and Stratford City planning – primarily the east-west connection of the Stratford City Bridge and the continuation of the Olympic Park space alongside the canal.
The LAC is planned on an orthogonal axis perpendicular to the Stratford City Bridge, along which the three pools are laid out. The training pool is located under the bridge whilst the competition and diving pools are within a large volumetric pool hall. The overall strategy is to frame the base of the pool hall as a podium by surrounding it and connecting it into the bridge.
This podium element allows us to contain a variety of differentiated and cellular programmatic elements into a single architectural volume, which appears to be completely assimilated with the bridge and the landscape. The podium emerges from underneath the bridge, cascading around the pool hall to the lower level of the canal side level.
The pool hall is expressed above the podium level by a large roof arching along the same axis as the pools, its form generated by sight-lines for spectators during Olympic mode. Double-curvature geometry creates a structure of parabolic arches that provide the unique characteristics of the roof.
Project name: London 2012 Olympics Aquatics Centre
Location: Olympics park, Stratford, London, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51.5402°N 0.0106°W
Type: Water Sports Center
Program: aquatics centre for 2012 summer olympics and future use
Capacity: 17,500 (2,500 post-Olympics)
Project Area: 15,950 sqm (Legacy), 21,897 sqm (Olympic)
Total floor area:
- basement: 3,725 m2
- ground floor: 15,137 m2
- first floor: 10,168 m2
- basement: 3,725 m2
- ground floor: 15,402 m2
- first floor: 16,387 m2
- seating area: 7,352 m2
- legacy: 15,950 m2
- olympic: 21,897 m2
Broke ground: July 2008
Project Year: 2005 – 2011
Built: 27 July 2011
Construction cost: £269 million
Completion Year: 2012
Client / Owner / Developer: Olympic Delivery Authority
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects – Studio London, 10 Bowling Green Lane, London, United Kingdom
Project Director: jim heverin
Project Architect: glenn moorley, sara klomps
Project Team: Alex Bilton, Alex Marcoulides, Barbara Bochnak, Carlos Garijo, Clay Shorthall, Ertu Erbay, George King, Giorgia Cannici, Hannes Schafelner, Hee Seung Lee, Kasia Townend, Nannette Jackowski, Nicolas Gdalewitch, Seth Handley, Thomas Soo, Tom Locke, Torsten Broeder, Tristan Job, Yamac Korfali, Yeena Yoon
Project Team [competition]: saffet kaya bekiroglu, agnes koltay, feng chen, gemma douglas, kakakrai suthadarat,
karim muallem, marco vanucci, mariana ibanez, sujit nair
Sports Architects: s+p architects (london)
Structural Engineer: ove arup & partners (london, newcastle)
Services: ove arup & partners (london)
Fire Safety: arup fire (london)
Acoustics: arup acoustics (london)
Façade Engineers: robert-jan van santen associates (lille)
Lighting Design: arup lighting (london)
Kitchen Design: winton nightingale (london)
Maintenance Access: reef (london)
Temporary Construction: edwin shirley staging (london)
Security Consultant: arup security (london)
AV + IT consultants: mark johnson consultants (london)
Access Consultant: access = design (london)
Cdm co-Coordinator: total cdm solutions (cardigan)
Breeam Consultant: ove arup & partners (london)
Contractor: main contractor: balfour beatty (uk)
General contractor: Balfour Beatty
Timber sub-contractor: finnforest merk gmbh
Text Description: © Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Images: © Zaha Hadid Architects, Hélène Binet, Hufton + Crow, Anthony Charlton, Olympic Delivery Authority