Serie has reinvented the classical architectural hierarchy on a structure inspiried by the Victorian bandstand
Architect Serie Architects
Location London 2012 Olympic Park
Completed July 2012
Serie Architects has developed a pavilion for BMW in the Olympic Park that appears to float above the Waterworks River, between the main Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre.
The result of an invited competition, the pavilion is inspired by the Victorian bandstand, a timeless type that the architects describe as “a summer staple of architecture in the park”, its architecture defined by “a distinctive, light roof and slender, straight columns”.
Serie has reinvented the classical architectural hierarchy, rethinking the traditionally heavy and massive plinth as an immaterial, ethereal object, on top of which an undulating canopy structure is supported on columns.
“The idea is to get close to nature by stripping back the architecture to the absolute minimum,” says the architect. “There is no role for exotic form and shape-making. Instead the architecture opens itself to the beauty of its surroundings.”
The ground floor of the BMW pavilion, which will be used for information display and visitor entertainment, is internally oriented and has been expressed as a simple rectangular glass box which is placed on piles above the river.
The upper floor, by contrast, is conceived as a series of small rooftop pavilions, open to display BMW products to surrounding spectators, set on a reflecting pool that spills over the edge to form a waterfall.
The curved roofs of these upper pavilions are based on off-phase sinusoidal curves, recalling the dynamic geometry of waveforms, fluid dynamics and airflow.
The pavilions are planned to have a life after the Games, dispersed to countryside locations across the UK to serve as a reminder of the Olympics.
The nine rooftop pavilions feature curved semi-monocoque timber shell roofs supported by steel columns.
The timber shells incorporate curved 147 x 47mm timber joists on 600mm centres laid out in the direction of the roof curvature with noggings set between the joists at irregular intervals.
Using principles of boat building technology, the stress-skin is made from three layers of 9mm cold-formed cross-laminated ply sheets glued and screwed into place.
The engineers used a parametric digital-to-fabrication process to convert the complex curved forms into complete sets of cutting profiles for the fabrication
of the joists and ply sheets. The 150 x 150 x 10mm RHS steel columns are placed at irregular intervals to facilitate visitor movement and viewing sightlines.
The columns bolt to a timber edge beam in the roof and a curved RHS steel edge beam running around the base of the pavilion.
The timber shell roofs were fabricated offsite in 3m lengths, craned into position, and bolted together.
Creating the waterfall
The waterfall disguises the supporting structure below and cools the building by evaporation, convection and reduction of solar gain.
The GRP-lined reflecting pool is supplied through a series of sumps (750 x 750 x 300mm deep) fitted with cover gratings. The water is drawn from the river by submersible pumps set on platforms 500mm above the riverbed.
Each pump is separately controllable and delivers water to the reflecting pool sumps via a matrix of pipework and diffuser inlets.
The water circulates to all areas of the pool before spilling over the building perimeter via an adjustable perforated weir edge detail designed to create a white-water effect.
The water is treated using a series of in-line strainers, filters and sterilisers — without the addition of chemicals. The pump sets incorporate 150mm in-line pre-filters to remove suspended solids.
The main pressure pipelines are fitted with in-line three-lamp UVC sterilisers providing a UV dose greater than 30mj/cm2. This level of dose relates to a 99.99% kill rate assuming 80% UV transmission per cm.
Design architect Serie Architects
Executive architect Franken Architekten
Structural engineer AKT II
Water feature specialist Fountains Direct
MEP engineering Atelier Ten
Project management Krüger Schuberth Vandreike