The London Velodrome, part of the Velopark bicycling center in east London, anchors the northern end of the city’s Olympic Park. Both the indoor velodrome and nearby BMX racing track will remain after the games conclude in August. The Velodrome’s curved exterior, covered in wood paneling, reflects the sleek race track inside. The 6000 seat structure benefits from natural ventilation instead of a reliance on air conditioning thanks to the exterior’s timber cladding. The use of artificial light is also minimized because of the velodrome’s rooftop skylights. A rainwater harvesting system also reduces the amount of water needed for toilet flushing and grounds irrigation, but London’s Olympic organizers said the costs of installing such a system far exceeded the financial benefits.
The Olympic basketball arena not only dazzles, but democratizes. Completed last year on time and under budget at £30 million, the arena is the Olympics’ largest temporary venue. The flatpack design will allow for dismantling and future reuse elsewhere in the world. Rumors have it that the arena could even be sold to the organizers of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro or be reassembled in a poorer country in the future. Its lighter design also meant less steel and concrete were used in this 12,000 seat facility. While past Olympic hosts including Atlanta, Athens and Beijing are stuck with “white elephants” as the result of hosting these lavish events, London’s basketball area is a step in showing that the Games can be more responsible and sustainable.
Standing out with its wave-shaped roof, the Olympics’ second-largest building after the main Olympic Stadium is the first structure visitors see as they approach the Olympic Park. Built on a brownfield site, the Aquatics Centre’s stunning ceiling, which soars over the two 50-meter pools, were built out of sustainably sourced Red Lauro timber. The exterior was constructed with precast modular blocks of concrete, which not only reduced the amount of emissions required to build the facility, but also eliminated the need for painting. The interior stands are made from steel and phthalate-free PVC wrap that will be recycled after the games. And most of the building materials, including the 866,000 tiles needed to line the pool and locker rooms, were delivered by train instead of truck.