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Engineering the Olympics 'Advanced Structures' Meeting

Orbit - engineering the olympics

The 'Advanced Structures' technical group held a very interesting and successful seminar on 'Engineering the Olympics' at TWI. Dan Thompson, Chairman, Welding and Quality Manager from Severfield-Watson Structure Ltd, opened the event by introducing the content and welcoming all attendees (19) and speakers (4).

The event featured the structural engineering challenges which had been faced during the design, manufacture and construction of some of the key London 2012 Olympics structures. This includes how the design criteria of the structures were achieved with an emphasis on sustainability and legacy use in mind.

Paul Hulme, Associate Director of Severfield-Watson Structure Ltd, gave the first presentation describing the reasons behind the development of the brief and the resulting design concept that offers a new paradigm for Olympic Stadia. The UK Olympic Stadium, which hosted the athletic events and the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, was developed around an innovative use of permanent and temporary structures designed to meet the 80,000 Games spectator capacity and a 25,000 Legacy spectator capacity. He explained how selection of structural geometries, structural element sizes and orientations and connection design provided an elegant and refined simplicity to the overall design appropriate for an economic, partially temporary structure. A total of 10,000 tonnes of steel were used in comparison of 80,000 tonnes to manufacture the stadium in Beijing in 2008. A key message presented was the success of the rapid delivery of the stadium in just 34 months, achieved through teamworking.

Peter Gannon, Severfield-Watson Structure Ltd, talked about the Orbit structure consisting of 1,500 tonnes of steel. The Orbit is a 115-metre-high sculpture and observation tower in the Olympic Park. It is Britain's largest piece of public art and is intended to be a permanent lasting legacy of London's hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympics, assisting in the post-Olympics regeneration of the Stratford area. The lecture covered the design, fabrication and erection of the Orbit Sculpture. In particular it addressed the decision making process, along with the Client's team, regarding the types of connections, achievable tolerances, buildability and programme.

Basketball - engineering the olympics

The Basketball Arena was introduced by Neil Holloway, Director of Fenton Holloway Ltd. Neil described the process and challenges involved in the specialist design of the PVC-coated polyester fabric cladding system supported from and tensioned over a 1,000 tonnes skeletal steel frame for the London 2012 Basketball Arena, the largest temporary venue ever constructed for an Olympic or Paralympic Games. The arena shell was built for 12,000 temporary demountable seats and demanded a rigour in design, co-ordination, safety, manufacture and construction that the entire design and build team achieved.

The last presentation was about the Velodrome and was presented by Pete Winslow from Expedition Engineering Ltd. Pete described the development project from the initial brief to completion of the timber track. With a focus on the superstructure and roof, it was discussed how to create a remarkable building within tight budgets and timescale. The 2012 Olympic Velodrome consisting of 6,000 seats has a 13,000 square metre roof which is supported by a light weight doubly-curved cable net. Together with the careful integration of the environmental design and efficient use of materials, the Velodrome has an extremely low embodied and operational energy performance, making it one of the most sustainable venues of its type. Described by six-time Olympic gold medal winner Chris Hoy as being "magnificent, better even than it looked on the drawing board", the venue is testament to the success of client, design team and main contractor collaboration.

All these buildings resulted in a world-class venue which intelligently answers questions of function, beauty, sustainability, buildability and value.

Contact Emilie Soileux for further information

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