Architecture of the Olympics – London 2012 – Part 2
31 days left and its time for part 2 of our blogs on architecture of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Next up we look at the Aquatics Centre. This is Origin’s personal favourite, created by Zaha Hadid Architects and has all the ultra modernism and aspiration we’ve come to expect from the in vogue architects. We imagine that many architects in Lincoln and across the world will marvel at this building in many years to come.
Our intial impression was that the canopy over the main entrance looked like a giant whale fin emerging from the sea to provide rain shelter for visitors whilst an aerial view looks more like a mantaray gliding across the ocean bed. However the narrative of the form was developed not from sea creatures but the swimmers form, makes sense really, and a second glance reveals a butterfly kick on the ceiling and the overarm shape of the butterfly stoke on the outside. The ceiling of the venue has lighting fixed into eliptical recesses which give the impression of condensed coalesced water droplets forming on a cold suface. As an internal space, and like most Zaha Hadid designs, its conceptual design provides a flood of inspiration for all those interested in futurism.
The wings on each side of the building are temporary additions for the games and boost the seating capacity from 6000 to 20,000. After the games the wings will be removed and the sides enclosed and supported by an arrangement of structure which look like sets of stairs leading up to a diving board.
The Aquatics Centre has certainly got its pricetag, originally estimated to cost £75 million the bill currently stands at over £250 million and the final bill will not be returned until well after the Olympic Games. We do think it’s easy to be an extravagant architect with an open cheque book, let’s hope you got this one on a percentage of the build cost! However it does amaze us how such a large project can run three and a half times the original budget cost. Surely the best were on the job. Did the main contractor not manage to screw their sub contractors on this one? Or did the QS forget to count by a factor of four? Perhaps with such a grand vision the taxpayer should just accept the costly bill, even in a double dip recession. After all until we can measure and value the physiological response of a human being how are we to really know whether this was worth the extra £175 million.
Architecture of the Olympics – London 2012 – Part 1
We are nearing the most hotly anticipated sporting event here in the UK for at least a decade. With tickets like gold dust most of us will have to make do with watching the events on television, sadly us included. With 80 days to go to the London 2012 Olympics its time to get involved. So we thought we would start a series of Olympic Architecture blogs with the forthcoming games of London 2012 our immediate focus.
For London 2012 a total of 32 competition venues were required to deliver the games. Of these, 8 new permanent and 7 temporary venues were created, with a further 17 existing venues being adapted for the games. We will take a look at some of our favourites.
We’ll start with the Velodrome. Construction finished in February 2011 and the Velodrome was one of the first buildings to be completed for the London games. The building will provide the venue for all track cycling events for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and is a replacement for the Eastway Cycle Track. Designed by Hopkins Architects the Velodrome is a classic example of form following function. The Velodrome is a sleek building and proves simplicity of shape, developed from its use and purpose, is often the correct path for architects in Lincoln, London and across the globe to take. This results in a no nonsense building and has very clean smooth details.
The venue has 6000 seats arranged on two levels with a panoramic glazed concourse dividing the two tiers. The concourse gives great views of the Olympic park and allows ticketless fans a glimpse of the action inside the Velodrome. From a sustainability point of view the building uses rainwater harvesting to reduce the consumption of water, provides natural ventialtion through vents within the the timber cladding and limits artificial lighting by the careful use of rooflights. After the games the Velodrome will join up with the BMX Circuit and a new road racing course and mountain bike trails course to create the VeloPark leaving a leisure facility equiped to train future generations of Olympic hopefuls.
As a preference we do lean towards more minimalistic styling as opposed to overtly complicated and showy buildings. The underst streamlined contours of the building reflect the aerodynamic need for speed an Olympic cyclist. Perhaps this was the narrative or principles the architects used to develop the Velodrome. The palette of materials used on the external elevations is more natural than most of the other Olympic venues and whilst it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest this sits neatly in its suroundings without having visited, we believe this will be the case. Next time we visit London we will pay the Velodrome a visit to back up our argument.
It’s a big thumbs up from us for Hopkins Architects. Let us know what you think!