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Monday28 July 2014

Bellyflop: Zaha Hadid's reworked Aquatic Centre disappoints - more images and visitors comments

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As revealed by BD in November, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre now includes two temporary stands.

The temporary seating stands – to be removed after the Games have a ten year lifespan but the Olympic Deliver Authority expects them to be reused and incorporated into a permanent, or semi-permanent facility.

The centre was originally conceived as a 20,000 seat venue but concerns over the games’ legacy has seen that figure drop to just 2,500, with the shortfall addressed by two huge temporary seating “wedges” which will flank the two longer elevations of the centre.

These new images, part of the centre’s planning application submitted two weeks ago, show that the sinuous forms of the wave-like structure will now be obscured by the hard-edged seating stands, one of which, will cantilever over the River Lea.

Spectators will sit under a PVC stretch fabric roof, the most cost effective solution according to the planning submission which also states that measures are being taken to ensure a sustainable fabric is selected.

BD’s buildings editor Ellis Woodman said: “There has been a succession of disappointments as the major Olympic projects have been revealed. The Aquatic Centre was the one that promised to be a work of architectural ambition.

“These new images show that potential has now been squandered by the addition of two very ugly temporary stands.”

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Headline, BD dated 7th January 2012: "Britain Laughing stock of international Architectural community as 2012 Games to be held in a series of B&Q demountable garden sheds..."

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  • Here is another demonstration of what happens when projects are run by committees of bean counters. Without a doubt the cost-cutting design will lead to these projects being over budget and over time. Mud swimming anyone?

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  • Why does Britain always settle for mediocrity. The aquatic venue could have been truly spectacular and trumped all previous olympic venue designs. However, politics have got involved and 'legacy' has resulted in this design being somewhat stripped of it's integrity and inspired vision.The interior still has a beautiful sculptural quality to it and is more artistic than say the Beijing 'water cube's'which is less architectural but more gimmicky. I'm sure the athletes will find it a beautiful environment to swim. However, the exterior looks a mess - why obscure Hadid's wave like main structure with two 'sticky outy bits'. This venue is the stadium equivalent of the F.A cup (two big handles equals two big temporary stands). Whilst the venue might be sufficient why couldn't Londons Olympic organisers show more ambition - Quality has been compromised for 'legacy'.

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  • hadids aquatic centre would have been ugly without the temporary stands. internally the tongue would have been quite dramatic taking advantage of the slope of the seated areas and the adjacent height over the pools but externally it looks just like a - tongue. it has a natural sleek shape but unlike calatrava its takes its reference from a - tongue. not very inspiring or maybe i am transfixed by tongues.

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  • If you cannot afford a Zaha Hadid design then don't run a design competition for an Olympic Aquatic Centre. Who designs an aquatic centre with the lowest point above the head of the diving platform area? How is that putting athletes or the sport first? Even Fina complained about the height above the diving area. This venue is design first, reality of costs second and "legacy" third. They've learnt their lesson with the velodrome. They have appointed a design team and NOT a design.

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  • Another disappointment or just another function shoehorned into an inappropriate tongue shaped building. (Actually it reminds me of a beached whale.) There are lots of technical aspects missing from this design which are critical from a competition point of view, such as the wavy ceiling which will certainly disorientate backstroke swimmers. But blinded as we architects usually are by this great woman's scultural form, it's forgiveable?

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  • Seems pointless now to have the flowing design, why not let the government just build a grey box and be done with it...?

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  • I love the building.A lot of thought has been put into how it will cater for the Games and how it can be utilized once they are over.There seems little point in having tens of thousands of permanent seating when they will never be used.The achitect has done a great job.

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