London 2012 Olympics Velodrome
The Olympic track cycling venue, or Velodrome, by Hopkins Architects, is considered the most sustainable venue in the Olympic Park in terms of design and construction. The overall inspiration for the design was the bicycle – a fitting choice, considering the building’s purpose.
The London Velodrome is a cycling centre in Leyton in east London. It is one of the permanent Olympic and Paralympic venues for the 2012 Games. The Velopark is at the northern end of Olympic Park. It has a velodrome and BMX racing track, which will be used for the Games, as well as a one-mile (1.6 km) road course and a mountain bike track. The park replaces the Eastway Cycle Circuit demolished to make way for it. The facilities built for the Olympics were constructed between 2009 and 2011. The first event in the Velopark was the London round of the 2011 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series.
The 6,000 seat Velodrome will host the Olympic and Paralympic track cycling events in 2012. After the Games, the legacy Velodrome will be used by elite athletes and the local community and will include a café, bike hire and cycle workshop facilities. The ODA started work on the Velodrome in March 2009 with construction now completed and the first Olympic Park venue in place nearly 18 months before the start of the Games.
Selected riders from the Great Britain Cycling Team tried out the Velodrome for the first time today including Beijing Games medal winners Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar, together with rising stars and established names in the GB cycling team. The cyclists were joined in unveiling the Velodrome by ODA Chairman John Armitt, Seb Coe Chair of the London Organising Committee (LOCOG), Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and other guests.
The Velodrome design team were chosen following a design competition in 2007. Shortlisted architects were assessed by a jury which featured leading names from the architectural world and Olympic Champion Chris Hoy. This ensured design excellence would site alongside the best possible facilities for cyclists.
The winning design team designed the Velodrome to be lightweight and efficient to reflect the efficient design of a bicycle. The distinct Velodrome roof has been designed to reflect the geometry of the cycling track, using a very lightweight double curving cable net structure.
Cable-net roof structure weighs 30kg/m2 compared to 65kg/m2 for the Beijing Velodrome. The 6,000 seats are split into a lower and upper tier, allowing a 360 degrees concourse level in between with a continuous ribbon of full height windows offering views out across the rest of the Olympic Park and London skyline. The external sides of the Velodrome are clad in a striking Western Red Cedar timber to draw a parallel with the timber track inside the venue.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) started construction work on the Velodrome in March 2009 – it was one of the last of the big 5 venues to start work but will be the first Olympic Park venue to be completed in early 2011. Some 48,000 cubic metres of material was excavated to create the bowl for the Velodrome, enough to fill 19 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
2,500 sections of steelwork were installed to form the Velodrome structure, rising in height by 12 metres from the shallowest point to the highest part of the structure. The cable-net roof lift took eight weeks to complete and features some 16km of cabling, covering an area of 12,000m2. The Velodrome is one of the most sustainable venues in the Olympic Park and the lightweight roof weighs roughly half that of any other covered Velodrome, helping create a highly-efficient building. The striking outer cladding of the venue uses 5,000m2 of Western Red Cedar timber.
The Velodrome has been designed with the aim of creating the world’s fastest cycling track by tailoring the track geometry and setting the temperature and environmental conditions within the venue to create record-breaking conditions. The venue has also been being designed with seating all the way round the track to create the best possible crowd atmosphere during events. Renowned track designer Ron Webb oversaw the design and installation of the 2012 track having previously worked on the Sydney and Athens Velodromes.
A team of 26 specialist carpenters installed the track over a period of 8 weeks. 56km of surface timber from a sustainably-sourced Siberian pine was laid to form the track surface, fixed into place with more than 300,000 nails.
The building has been designed to be lightweight and efficient to reflect the efficient design of a bicycle. The use of abundant daylight through strategically positioned rooflights reduces need for artificial lighting, and natural ventilation is achieved through openings in the external timber cladding of the venue.
Heating and ventilation systems to meet cycling environmental requirements, allowing the highest performance by the elite cyclists, whilst maintaining high energy-efficiency. Compact design minimises energy consumed to heat the main arena.
Water saving fittings and collection of rainwater for reuse in building are built into design to help reduce water consumption. Lightweight cable-net roof structure weighs 30kg/m2 compared to 65kg/m2 for the Beijing Velodrome, helping create a highly efficient building.
- 6,000 seat Velodrome – to host the Olympic and Paralympic indoor track cycling events in 2012
- 250m UCI (International Cycling Union) approved indoor track
- 360 degree Public Concourse for viewing all cycling activities
- 8 changing rooms
- Café and event serveries
- Bike hire & retail outlet – families can hire bikes to use the new facilities
- Cycle workshop, Gym + physio, and storage for over 300 bikes
- Venue will be linked into cycle routes across London, linking the new venue with the whole of the capital
One of the four permanent venues on the Olympic Park, the Velodrome provides a landmark venue for the indoor track cycling events at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The building forms an elegant response to the brief by using simple materials in an efficient manner to meet the client’s aspirations within the available budget.
Cycling inspired the concept for the Velodrome. The bicycle is an ingenious ergonomic object that is honed to unrivalled efficiency. We wanted the same application of design creativity and engineering rigour that goes into the design and manufacture of a bicycle to manifest itself in the building; not as a mimicry of the bicycle but as a three-dimensional response to the functional requirements of the venue whose distinctive form has emerged from an integrated design team approach which focused on the performance and efficiency of every aspect of the building.
The Velodrome contains 6,000 seats in both Olympic and Legacy modes and responds to both contexts in an appropriate manner with minimal transformation. The upper and lower seating tiers are split by the main public circulation concourse which forms the main point of entry into the arena and allows spectators to maintain contact with the action on the track as they circulate around the building. The concourse is fully glazed to allow views both into and out of the building. It also helps to visually separate the Western Red Cedar clad upper bowl from the ground floor back of house accommodation which is largely hidden behind the landscaped earth berms that form a visual plinth at the East and West ends of the building.
The Olympic Delivery Authority set a number of sustainability and material targets; through careful consideration and integration of the architecture, structure and building services the design has met or exceeded these requirements.
Project name: London 2012 Olympics Velodrome
Location: A12, Leyton, London, E20 3EL, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51°33′1.44″N, 0°0′55.08″W
Size: 21,700 sqm
Capacity: 6,000 (velodrome); 6,000 (BMX track)
Field dimensions: 250 metres
Competition Date: May 2007
Announcement of the results: August 2007
Work started: 23rd February 2009
Construction Year: 2009 – 2011
Construction cost: £105 million
Completion Date: 13th January 2011
- 2011 The Institute of Structural Engineers annual awards – Sports Structures – Winner – & highly acclaimed Supreme Award
- 2011 Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award – Winner
- 2011 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards – RIBA Stirling Prize – ‘People’s Poll’ – Winner
- 2011 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards – RIBA Stirling Prize – shortlist
- 2011 The New London Architecture Awards (NLA Awards) – ‘Play’ Award & ‘Overall’ Award.
- 2011 Architect’s Journal Awards – AJ100 Building of the Year
Client / Owner / Developer: Olympic Delivery Authority
Architects: Hopkins Architects, 27 Broadley Terrace, London NW1 6LG, United Kingdom
Operator: Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Structural engineer: Expedition Engineering
Services engineer: BDSP
Main contractors: ISG
Text Description: © Courtesy of Olympic Delivery Authority, Hopkins Architects
Images: © Hopkins Architects, Richard Davies, David Poultney, Anthony Charlton, Anthony Palmer, Olympic Delivery Authority