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Monday, April 16, 2012

The Master Stroke


By Savitha Hira
Photography: Hufton + Crow;Courtesy: Zaha Hadid Architects


Iconic architectural design is here to stay. While we see several offshoots that often directly relate to the Zaha Hadid signature, the architect herself continues to evolve complex geometries, breaking new ground...  

It is an undulated form – so characteristic of Zaha Hadid. But although the wave-like undulation is inspired from the functional subject matter, the comparison ends there. What follows is a well-orchestrated symphony of logistics that mandate the design and construct of such large state-of-the-art facilities to suit a global gaming venue; and extend beyond its temporary tenure as an inclusive socio-cultural icon of the ethos of its habitat.

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The London Aquatics Centre will mark the gateway to the 2012 Olympic Park in July-August 2012. At the core of this design inspired by the fluid geometries of water in motion, is the strength of structural steel. The stunning waveform shape of the complex steel roof sweeps dramatically upwards in a smooth curve from the southern end and down over the northern cantilever, while the western and eastern tips curve upwards at the edges.

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Designed with an inherent flexibility to accommodate 17,500 spectators for the London 2012 Games in ‘Olympic’ mode, the Aquatics Centre will also provide optimum spectator capacity of 2000 for use in ‘Legacy’ mode after the Games.

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The building is planned on an orthogonal axis, perpendicular to the Stratford City Bridge – the overall strategy being to frame the base of the pool hall as a podium connected to the bridge. This podium element contains a variety of differentiated and cellular programmes within a single architectural volume, completely assimilated with the bridge. It emerges from the bridge to cascade around the pool hall to the lower level of the canal.

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The 11,000m2 structure spans a column free area 160m long and up to 90m wide supported on bearings on two concrete cores 54m apart near its northern end and on a concrete wall at its southern end, enclosing the 3 pools - training as well as diving - on an orthogonal axis in a unifying gesture of fluidity.

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Double-curvature geometry generates a parabolic arch structure that creates the unique characteristics of the roof.  It undulates to differentiate between the volumes of competition pool and diving pools and projects beyond the pool hall envelope, to the main entrance on the bridge - the primary access in Legacy mode. Structurally, the roof is grounded at 3 primary positions with the opening between the roof and podium used for the additional spectator seating in Olympic mode, then in-filled with a glass fa├žade in Legacy mode. 

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While the roof in its permanent condition is designed to be fixed on plan at its northern bearings and free to slide longitudinally at the southern end, lateral stability is provided by a system of horizontal and diagonal cross braces. The finer details see precise mathematics at play in the roof canopy and the structure at large.

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Setting new standards in sustainability and accessible design, the London Aquatics Centre will, post the Olympics, become a much-needed swimming facility, providing two 50m swimming pools with moveable floors and separation booms, a diving pool and dry diving area for a full range of community and elite use.

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2 comments :

  1. Steel was a major contributor in streamlining efficient land use management in the early part of the 20th century. The Bessemer process and other high volume steel fabrication techniques gave birth to the skyscraper after the industrial revolution. Hence the iconic cities of Chicago and New York were made possible on a small land mass, which would otherwise not have been possible using the conventional brick, mortar and concrete methods.
    Posted by Anup Magan on Linkedin Group: London Architecture Network in response to IAnD's discussion thread:Steel facilitates both design and innovation. As a material, steel-framed construction is best exploited for the betterment of the environment. Substantiate this with some examples...

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  2. The design and concept for buildings nowadays are very intriguing since they use lot's of glass.

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