Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Personal, Things I Like... > The New Olympic Velodrome – Architecture at its Finest…

The New Olympic Velodrome – Architecture at its Finest…

What with one thing and another, I’ve been reminded by my friend Darren (twice now to be honest) that I hadn’t written up our trip to the new Olympic velodrome… Darren managed to get some tickets for the qualifying rounds of the Team Pursuit event of the recent UCI Track Cycling World Cup a couple of weeks ago now, and as I didn’t mange to get any tickets for the Olympics events, I jumped at the chance when he offered me one of his.

I’ve touched on it before, but having now had the pleasure of going into the new velodrome and experiencing it during an event, I can confirm that it is indeed a truly stunning thing.

Designed by the practice of one of this country’s finest architects, Michael Hopkins, the velodrome was the first building to be completed in the Olympic Park (begun March 2009, completed February 2011) and will be the most sustainable and energy efficient structure within the whole park. Inside it is bright, with a dynamism that reflects the nature of the beautiful wooden track, undoubtably the centre piece of the whole ensemble.

The event we went to was a sell out, and by the time the British Women’s Team was hurtling around, the noise from the crowd was really quite deafening.. this is a space that is highly conducive to generating an amazing atmosphere, so much so that an hour and a half later when the British Men had their turn, the noise was unbelievably, even louder.

The event was due to start at 6.00pm, so our evening began when we all met up in the truly awful Westfield Shopping mall. What a horrid place it is: confusing, narrow, garish, and annoyingly you have to go through the centre (or at least part of it) to get to the Olympic Park. As an architect, I think I understand space and how it can be organised, but I am at a total loss to see how during the Olympics proper, with 10’s of thousands of people all turning up within narrow time slots, and all walking through the narrow walkways of the Westfield Centre, it is going to be anything other than disastrous…

I think the Velodrome holds about 6000 people, a fraction of the expected daily visitors during the Games themselves, but even with this few of us, we had to queue along side a busy road to get into the park, then queue for the bag scanners, then for the bus to take us across the park to the velodrome… Nothing majorly problematic you understand, just frustrating, taking about 40 mins from the park gates to our seats. Getting out was a different matter however, as it took over an hour to do the same route in reverse…

And whilst I’m having a little moan… there seem to be only two refreshment kiosks in the whole building, one at each end, and would you believe that they ran out of cold bottles of beer after less than an hour. Apparently they weren’t expecting such a big demand. This is despite the constant internal temperature of 28°…

Still, all in all it was a really excellent trip. A really great opportunity to see this wonderful building in full swing, doing exactly what it was designed to do… and doing it very well. I can only hope/ assume that the access issues have been considered and will disappear once the whole park is fully open and operational.

A huge thanks to Darren for inviting me and to Kerrance and the Welshman for their company…

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: