Decoding Design

The Velodrome may be London 2012's most sustainable venue

The Velodrome may be London 2012's most sustainable venue

Posting in Architecture

The London 2012 Velodrome was designed with affordable materials and simple engineering to make it perhaps the most eco-friendly addition to the London Olympic Park.

In just eight short months, London will kick off the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Like every city on the eve of hosting a major world event, London has been unveiling building after new building from stadiums to restaurants.

The shiny new Queen Elizabeth Olympic park is almost finished, which almost all of the main buildings finished on time, and includes Zaha Hadid's Aquatics Center. On top of a turf field over looking the rest of the campus is the new London Velodrome, one of the four permanent fixtures of the park.

The Velodrome will be the venue for the indoor track cycling events for the Olympic and Paralympic Games,

The building's form was inspired by the sport itself:

"The bike is an ingenious ergonomic object, honed to unrivalled efficiency" said the Velodrome's designers, Hopkins Architects. "We wanted the same application of design creativity and engineering rigor that goes into the design and manufacture of the bike to manifest itself in the building." The double-curved roof emulates the dips of the racetrack seamlessly.

The structure was designed with simple, affordable materials in mind, and the building has met or exceeded the Olympic Delivery Authority's sustainability targets. Only 100 tons of steel were used, a tiny sum compared to the 3,000 used in the Aquatics Center that is roughly the same size.

Inside the building, many trusses connect to a beam that suspends the net structure than hangs over-head. Klaus Bode, one of the building's environmental engineers has said that it is the buildings "integrated holistic design" that makes it the park's most sustainable project.

The designers sought to optimize the stadium's performance by exploiting new technology and software throughout the design process so that they did not need to add on photovoltaics or turbines.

The Velodrome seats 6,000-- both for the coming Olympics and beyond-- and the main concourse allows views both in and out of the venue, while the upper bowl is constructed with warm and inviting Western Red Cedar that will over time begin to look shiny and silver.

[Atlantic Cities via Architizer]
Images: Hopkins Architects

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Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure