London Aquatics Centre

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London Aquatics Centre
London, England (15513446165).jpg
The Aquatics Centre, in 2014
LocationQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park
London Borough of Newham
United Kingdom
Coordinates51°32′25″N 0°00′38″W / 51.5402°N 0.0106°W / 51.5402; -0.0106Coordinates: 51°32′25″N 0°00′38″W / 51.5402°N 0.0106°W / 51.5402; -0.0106
Public transitLondon Underground London Overground Elizabeth line Docklands Light Railway National Rail Stratford
Docklands Light Railway National Rail Stratford International
OperatorGreenwich Leisure Limited
Capacity17,500 (2,500 post-Olympics)[1]
Broke groundJuly 2008
Built27 July 2011
Construction cost£269 million
ArchitectZaha Hadid Architects
Structural engineerOve Arup & Partners
General contractorBalfour Beatty
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Paralympics
2016 European Aquatics Championships

The London Aquatics Centre is an indoor facility with two 50-metre (164-foot) swimming pools and a 25-metre (82-foot) diving pool in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London. The centre, designed by architect Zaha Hadid as one of the main venues of the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics, was used for the swimming, diving and synchronised swimming events. After significant modification, the centre opened to the public in March 2014.


The centre was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid in 2004 before London won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was built alongside the Water Polo Arena and opposite the Olympic Stadium on the opposite bank of the Waterworks River. The site is 45 metres (148 feet) high, 160 metres (520 feet) long, and 80 metres (260 feet) wide. The wave-like roof is stated to be 11,200 square feet (1,040 m2), a reduction from the previously stated 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2).

The complex has a 50-m competition pool, a 25-m competition diving pool and a 50-m warm-up pool.[2] The 50-m pool is 3 metres deep, like the one in the Beijing National Aquatics Center, in order to be fast.[3] Its floor can be moved to reduce its depth.[4] There are also moveable booms that allow its size to be changed.[2] The diving pool has platform boards at heights of 3 m, 5 m, 7.5 m, and 10 m and three 3m springboards.[5] For the television coverage of the Olympics, the pools were also equipped with innovative cameras in order to present the action from multiple angles.[6]

Because the centre was designed before the Olympic bid was completed, the spectator wings were not part of the original design. They were later added to fit the estimated audience.

Jacques Rogge, IOC President, described the centre as a "masterpiece".[7]


Construction in February 2011
The Aquatics Centre prior to opening, in 2012

On 1 December 2005, Hadid was instructed to revise her designs after a specification change led to a doubling of the £75-million estimated cost.[8] The new plans were unveiled on 27 November 2006.[9][10] Although the same general design was kept, with capacity for 17,500 spectators, the revised design was much smaller and was expected to cost much less than the previous estimate. However, subsequent cost increases were reported to Parliament in 2008.[11]

The construction contract was awarded to Balfour Beatty in April 2008.[12] At the same time, it was reported that the centre would cost about three times as much as originally estimated, totalling about £242 million. The cost increases were attributed to construction inflation and VAT increases, and also included the estimated cost of converting the facility for public use after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.[13] The centre was completed in July 2011 at a final cost of £269 million.[7]

By exposing the concrete finish rather than painting or cladding, the design demonstrates the precast-concrete skills provided by Peri. The precast floor terracing was manufactured by Bell & Webster Concrete in Lincolnshire, England. The terracing units were delivered and positioned to accelerate the speed of construction. The unique six-board diving platform is made from 462 tonnes of concrete. The aluminium roof covering was provided by Kalzip. The steel structure was built in cooperation with Rowecord Engineering, of Newport, Wales. The ceiling was built with 30,000 sections of Red Louro timber. The steel roof weighs 3,200 tonnes. The three pools hold around 10 million litres (2.2 million imperial gallons; 2.6 million US gallons) of water.

After the Paralympic Games, the Aquatic Centre was deconstructed to reduce its space. The frame wings on either side of the central space were removed, unbolted, and sold. The PVC wrap that temporarily enclosed the space was also sold, while the seats and toilets were reused elsewhere.[14] As certain parts of the building were no longer needed, they were recycled via Vinyloop. This allowed the standards of the Olympic Delivery Authority concerning environmental protection to be met.[15]


During the Games the venue had a capacity of 17,500. The two temporary "wings" have been removed, reducing the capacity to a regular 2,800 with an additional 1,000 seats available for major events.[5] Of all the swimming venues built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Aquatics Centre is the only one that will remain afterwards, albeit in a downsized form.

Panorama of the interior during a London Prepares test event in April 2012


The Aquatics Centre seen after the games, without the temporary wings.

Since the Olympic Games the venue has been modified, especially by removing the temporary seating that flanked the centre during the Games. It opened to the public on 1 March 2014.[16] Admission prices are in line with local leisure centres.[7][17]

The adjacent Water Polo Arena was dismantled after the Olympic Games, which left the Aquatics Centre as the sole swimming venue at the park. The centre hosted the 2014 FINA/NVC Diving World Series and the 2016 European Aquatics Championships.[18][19]

Comparable venues in England[edit]


  1. ^ "Construction Starts Early on Major Venues". London 2012 HQ. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Aquatics Centre". Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  3. ^ Sharon Begley (16 July 2012). "In London's pools, fast waters run deep". Reuters. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  4. ^ Gardner, Jasmine (27 July 2011). "The Standard makes a splash in £269m Olympic pool". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b "London 2012: Inside the Olympic Aquatics Centre (slideshow)". BBC News. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Filming the Games from every angle (video)". BBC. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b c "Venue profile for London 2012: Aquatics Centre". BBC. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Olympic Pool Plans To Be Revised". BBC Sport. 1 December 2005. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  9. ^ "London Scales Down 2012 Pool Plan". BBC Sport. 17 November 2006. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Swimmers praise Aquatics Centre design". 27 November 2006. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008.
  11. ^ Lysaght, Brian (17 July 2008). "London Olympic Organizers Say Aquatics Site Work Ahead of Plan". Bloomberg. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  12. ^ "UK Firms Sign Venue Contracts" Archived 6 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Cost of 2012 Olympic Pool Triples". BBC News. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  14. ^ "Project: London Aquatics Centre - 2012-07-19 20:07:07 | Interior Design". Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  15. ^ PVC at Olympics destined for reuse or recycling
  16. ^ "London Aquatics Centre opens to the public". 26 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  17. ^ "London Aquatics Centre | Better Swimming Pool, Diving Pool and Gym".
  18. ^ "FINA/NVC Diving World Series 2014 - London (GBR)". 10 February 2014. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  19. ^ "London lands European Championships". BBC Sport.

External links[edit]