Spotlight on the Olympic Stadium

Spotlight on the Olympic Stadium

Led by Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM), the principal design team comprised Populous (architects), Hyland Edgar Driver (landscape architects) and Buro Happold (engineers).

The stadium brief demanded that landscape, architecture and structure were considered as a single piece – to offer flexibility for the ‘legacy venue’, while reconciling the topography of the stadium site and the strands of the Bow Back Rivers.

The approach was to part-bury the stadium: the field of play is set as low as flood levels permit, half enclosed by a six-metre high-bund of recycled spoil from the Olympic Park. This drastically reduced the tonnage of steel for the superstructure – and the environmental and financial costs of the stadium.

In resolving the topography between riverbank and concourse levels, HED employed a strict set of rules, designed to minimise engineering and maximise the green character of the Island. From the towpath, the ground is graded up at a constant angle of repose (1 in 3). From the stadium, the concourse and spectator village areas extend outwards towards the rivers. Where a level difference between the two exists, it is taken up by a 70-degree, strengthened embankment.

West of the stadium, the Olympic families’ and athletes’ entrance area features native alder trees, ferns and groundcover planting – as well as ornamental grasses and sedges in a wetland-themed area. This feature marks the route of Pudding Mill River, which was filled in to build the stadium. Paving above the old river’s headwall reuses the original setts from the site, and nearby, 150m of granite dock-edgings create a low riverside seating wall sourced from King George V dock in London’s docklands.

The benefits of working with sustainability at the forefront have been seen from conception to completion. Most importantly, they have been recognised by the client, design and construction teams as adding quality and efficiency throughout the design and build process.

By the HED Design team: John Hyland, Arthur Gelling, Dafydd Coe and Roshan Kushe

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