Each Olympics has an architectural icon. For Beijing in 2008, it was the magnificent Bird’s Nest Stadiumand, the image of Santiago Calatrava‘s Olympic stadium was synoymous with the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. But what can we expect from London 2012?
With a tight budget to contend with, London has decided to stay clear of the more show-stopping architecture that was common during the Beijing games and instead, it has chosen to use the Olympics Games as an opportunity to make some lasting improvements to the city. London’s Olympic landscape is to feature an array of permanent buildings designed with the future in mind, alongside temporary structures that point to a more efficient way of hosting major sports events.
Among and around the buildings that will house hockey players and hurdlers, cyclists and swimmers throughout the duration of this summer’s Olympic Games in London are public spaces that strive to meet the exacting Olympic standards of excellence and performance, but which have a much more longterm goal. The Belvedere is the highest point in the Village and features a stibadium where people can gather to take in the views.
Let´s take a look at some of the stunning pieces of Olympic architecture due to grace London city this summer:
The Handball Arena also known as the Cooper Box, designed by Make Architects, looks like the generic sports centre it is destined to become post-Games, and its red trim does look slightly 1980s. However, the design is energy-efficient, flexible and highly practical. Impressively, it features include a rainwater harvesting system, retractable seating and 88 “light pipes” in the roof that reduce lighting bills by 40 per cent. Construction dust from the site went into the concrete, and even the copper is mostly recycled.
The Shooting Galleries and Basketball Arena designed by Magma and Wilkinson Eyre are two temporary and reusable venues which are sure to be used for other sporting occasions in the future. Both are simple tent-like structures made from a kit of parts, but given a distinctive twist. The 12,000 seat basketball arena’s membrane is stretched over a random arrangement of curved forms. Inside, in accordance with sporting regulations, it is essentially a black box – albeit one with 8 ft high doorways so tall players don’t bump their heads. The buildings are studded with coloured circular projections resembling the suckers of octopus tentacles. As well as creating a distinctive “family” identity, the suckers serve as ventilation openings, and become round doorways at ground-level.
The Velodrome designed by Hopkins Architects has 6,000 seat which will host the Olympic and Paralympic track cycling events in 2012, has most definitely helped to support London’s claim for the “greenest games ever”. Among other features, the roof collects rainwater which is reused and recycled, increasing water efficiency in combination with other water saving fittings. 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.
London’s Olympic architecture may encorporate some striking designs, but as you can probably tell from the above examples, it’s the city’s focus on sustainability and efficiency initiatives that has really set it apart from its predecessors. Rainwater harvesting and other energy saving solutions might have been around for a while, but it seems it’s only now that people are beginning to realize their important potential for large scale events, like the olympics.