On 4 August 2012 I made the pilgrimage to Stratford with my wife and excited three and a half year old boy to officially become a part of the Olympics; us and about 300,000 others, for this was “Middle Saturday”, more recently “Golden Saturday” (we don’t use actual dates any more, everything has a title / tag / abbreviation, OMG its annoying).
Even the most hardened cynic would surely be moved by the organisation, the atmosphere, the team spirit and, dare I say it, the architecture of this amazing quadrennial spectacle. The stadium itself, designed by HOK and Populous is beautifully understated and a clear essay on how steel should be used in the 21st century: it is light and elegant; the perfect antithesis to the so-called birds-nest of 2008, which incorporated 110,000 tonnes of steel (compared to just 10,000 in London).
Then there is the Velodrome (designed by Michael Hopkins), pipped to the post of the 2011 Stirling Prize by Zaha Hadid’s Evelyn Grace Academy (unjustly in my humble opinion). This is a building of near perfection. It is functional, well-considered, innovative and beautiful, floating above the east London landscape as though poised for action at any moment.
The Aquatics centre, to be fair to ZH, is also a remarkable building; curvaceous and alluring… or at least it will be when it’s value-engineered grandstand wings are removed now that the Olympics have finished.
I am proud of the achievements of our athletes and volunteers, but I am also proud of our construction industry for pulling off one of the largest regeneration projects in the world for the last four years.