Aquatics Centre, London

Project team

Client:Olympic Delivery Authority

Architect:Zaha Hadid Architects

Structural Engineer:Arup

Main Contractor:Balfour Beatty

Concrete Contractor:Morrisroe

Sustainability and legacy are two of the priority themes for the Olympic Delivery Authority and London 2012. The Aquatics Centre exemplifies these and delivers on iconic architecture too.

Concrete was used in both the sub-structure and super-structure, providing the foundations, pool tanks, structure and even the diving boards. The super-structure concrete used ground granulated blast-furnace slag as a cement replacement, whilst the sub-structure used pulverised fuel ash in the concrete mix. The Aquatics Centre exceeded the project target in its use of cement replacements and secondary and recycled aggregates.

Under the wave-form roof is a 50m competition pool and 25m dive pool, the 50m training pool is located beneath the entrance plaza to the Olympic Park. In Games mode the facility had a maximum capacity of 17,500, with 15,000 of those seats in temporary structures to the east and west of the main building. In Legacy mode the Aquatics Centre is a local community facility with capacity for national and international competitions.

Self-compacting concrete was used for the super-structure and the diving boards and was able to meet the technical, performance, sustainability and aesthetic requirements of the project. Reinforced concrete was used for the pool tank and foundations as it was economic, versatile in form, durable and low maintenance. The foundations carry the building over two major power-line tunnels and the transfer structures were the largest concrete pours on the project requiring about 1300m3 concrete each.

The recycled content of the concrete varied to meet the varying performance criteria of the project. Recycled aggregate rates peaked at 76% and cement replacement rates peaked at 70%. The use of recycled materials on this project saved 4000 tonnes of embodied CO2. The carbon savings of a durable structure with a long service life are less easy to measure, but no less significant.

The project won the RIBA London National Awards 2014 and was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2014.


Awards: RIBA Stirling Prize Nominated

Building type:Leisure & Recreation

Date of completion:18/03/2012

Specific location(s) of visible concrete:
Majority of all internal walls, many soffits and diving boards.

Curved walls: resin coated bent ply. Diving boards: fibre glass mould– cast against sytrofoam forms.

Concrete mix:
Most exposed concrete is 40% GGBS with 76% RA in all frame (secondary aggregate Stent used). Self compacting concrete. Diving boards: 30% GGBS with 10mm carboniferous limestone aggregate self compacting (fly ash used in mix below ground – not visible).

Special features:
Cast-in light fittings and services. Double curved structures. Smooth filled tie bolts.