Iconic construction projects – The 2012 Olympic Stadium
We all have fantastic memories of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games whether it’s Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Bradley Wiggins, Jonny Peacock, the opening ceremony. However, building the venues and the Olympic park in East London was a huge undertaking. Why was that part of London chosen? How much did it all cost? What happened to the venues after the Games ended?
Find out more with our Go Construct guide to the 2012 Olympic venues.
Where is the London Olympic Stadium?
The London Stadium, also known as the Olympic Stadium, is in Stratford, East London. The stadium is the largest venue in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the sporting complex purpose built for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
When did construction start?When did construction start?
Construction work on the stadium began in May 2008. Most of the other venues in the Olympic Park were built at the same time.
Planning the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The planning process
Securing all the relevant planning permissions to build the park was a complicated process. The 500- hectare site runs through four different London boroughs, and is criss-crossed by roads, railway lines, rivers, canals and electricity pylons. A compulsory purchase order was needed to relocate the 300 businesses that used the site, and many thousands of individual planning applications were made covering everything from the main venues to much smaller aspects of the site.
Regeneration of the local area
The site in East London was specifically chosen because the local area was in much need of regeneration. The boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest were some of the most deprived in the country, and the site itself was what is termed ‘post-industrial’. Industry had once thrived there, but those times had passed and it had become largely derelict, dangerous to access and contaminated with industrial waste.
Many people believe that London won the bid to host the Games because of its emphasis on regeneration. There would be new housing, transport infrastructure, retail and leisure developments and green space for local residents.
How the London Olympics was built
Before any of the venues were built, a massive clearance operation took place on the site. 220 buildings were demolished, power lines were buried underground and the whole area was decontaminated. The waterways that ran through the site were dredged of 30,000 tonnes of silt, gravel and rubbish. 90% of the materials left over from clearance, demolition and excavation were re-used or recycled on site.
The athletics stadium
The stadium was built by a partnership between the contractor Sir Robert McAlpine and the sports stadium design company Populous. The stadium is built with a series of tiers, with the roof 70 metres above ground level. Fast on-site assembly was made possible by bolting compression truss and roof column connections, which meant the roof structure could be disassembled easily after the Games.
The aquatics centre
The design for the Aquatics Centre was approved before London won the bid for the Olympic Games. The wave-like roof of the Aquatics Centre is its most distinctive feature, and it is located opposite the Olympic Stadium. It was built by the contractor Balfour Beatty and cost £269 million.
The venue that hosted the cycling events is located on the northern side of the Park, close to the Lea Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. It was the first of the Park venues to be completed, and cost £105 million to build. It is known as ‘the Pringle’ because of its curved roof and was shortlisted and won several building design prizes. It is now the centrepiece of the Lee Valley Velo Park, which caters for track and road cycling, BMX and mountain biking.
The BMX track
The BMX cycling events took place on a supercross track built for the Games by Clark & Kent Contractors, specialist BMX track designers. After the Games it was adapted for public use and is now part of the Velo Park.
How much did the Olympic Park cost to build?
The full cost of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was more than £1 billion.
When did the London Olympic Park open?
The stadium was officially opened on 6 May 2012, although the first events did not take place in the Park until the Games began, on 27 July 2012.
The legacy of the London Olympic Stadium
Leaving a legacy beyond 2012 was always one of the main objectives of the Olympic Delivery Authority, the government body that oversaw the delivery of the Games. London has been more successful than many other host cities in its legacy plan. The permanent venues in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have all been successfully reopened as public amenities, such as the Aquatics Centre, the Velo Park and the Copper Box, which has become a multi-sport venue.
The stadium itself is now the permanent home of the Premier League football club West Ham United. The club moved to the stadium in 2016 from Upton Park on a 99-year lease. It cost a further £323 million to convert the stadium into a multi-purpose venue. The London Stadium also hosts athletics events and concerts and other sports such as rugby union, rugby league and baseball.
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