The London Olympic Facilities Are Cleverly Designed To Outlast The Games

Around the world, host cities are stuck with giant venues built for the Games but rarely needed again. London will be different.

The London Olympic Facilities Are Cleverly Designed To Outlast The Games

Hufton + Crow; Luke Schuman

London’s Olympic Village is massive–more than 80 new buildings, ranging from an 80,000-seat stadium to apartments for athletes. But when the 17-day Olympic Games wrap on August 12, all that sprawl will lose its raison d’etre. Rather than birthing a burden–venue upkeep in Beijing following the 2008 Games has been more than $24 million annually–many structures were designed to be modular and adaptable. “Our premise was that we’re designing and building for legacy, and, oh yes, we happen to be accommodating the Games first,” says Ken Durbin, technical director with CH2M Hill, one of the three project managers for the site. And of all the new venues, none embodies that now-and-later ethos more than Zaha Hadid Architects’ 39,692-square-foot aquatic center.



These will contain most of the 17,500 spectators. After the Games, they’ll be removed [1], bringing the facility down to a more manageable 2,500 seats.


To facilitate their eventual removal, the wings were bolted onto the building rather than welded. The 1,400 tons of steel used to make them will be recycled.


The pools are 9 feet deep, per Olympic needs. Since that may be too deep for most Londoners, a floating floor that can be easily lowered or raised was built.

Media Center

No need to build a broad-cast room in a facility that’ll never need it again. Instead of a perch in the rafters, media will be set up outside, in a makeshift office.


Two slots run along the juncture of the wings and the building. When the wings are gone, glass will be inserted [2] to seal up the newly shrunken center.


Water Filter

The water used to clean
the pool filters–which will get a lot of use during the Games–is stored in basement tanks and used for flushing toilets.


About the author

Senior editor at Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter @heyfeifer.