I suppose that after the natatorium used in China for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the whole “design-your-arena-to-look-inflatable” thing is taking off pretty well with Olympic facilities. Also, I’m not sure if there are bags or bins large enough to stuff this baby into for recyclables pick-up day during the week. Hmmm…
Joking and sarcasm aside, I’d like to give the Olympic Basketball Arena in London some credit for these three impressive reasons:
1) It was the fourth Olympic structure to be completed on schedule,
2) It was designed to be temporary, and will be recycled when 2012 London Olympics conclude, and
3) Its design intention questions a common architectural notion that “monumental” architecture is typically reserved for permanent structures, and whether this can also apply to temporary structures.
Construction on the arena began in October 2009. It is measured to be nearly 115 feet high and has a steel frame weighing in at 1,000 tons. When the steel-frame was finished in March 2010, the all-white cladding was installed, followed by the arena’s interior being furbished over the next following months. After all of that work and after the 2012 Olympics close, the entire arena is to be deconstructed and shipped elsewhere for future use (though it is currently unknown what the stadium will be recycled into). The arena was designed as a joint project by Sinclair Knight Merz, Wilkinson Eyre and KSS.
Usually the Olympics are an opportunity for a country to showcase its wealth and promote (or establish) urban revivals. For the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona actively promoted the games as a major reason to swiftly bring forth development into its oft-neglected/underdeveloped areas. In 2008, Olympic host city Beijing showcased their strong economy by spending a lot of money on improving and creating additional city infrastructure, and erect glamorous and visible buildings to act as monuments (i.e., the “Bird’s Nest” Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron).
In my opinion, the most interesting thing about London’s basketball arena — one of the largest facilities ever to be built for the games — is the fact that it was designed to be temporary, rather than permanent. This is probably due to London’s Olympic Committee understanding that they want to keep costs down; they are already spending £500 million (roughly $810 million) for the main stadium, and more money for the expensive Olympic Aquatics Center (designed by Zaha Hadid), and the Olympic Village. By intending on making the basketball arena a temporary and shippable facility, they are avoiding one of the common problems many Olympic host cities face; the near-certainty of future neglect that typically follows the bigger, more extravagant Olympic stadiums (i.e. the previously-mentioned “Bird’s Nest” in Beijing, among others).
“It makes a lot of sense, especially if you want to take the Games beyond the richest cities in the world. To do that, you’ve got to bring the costs down.”
–Dennis Hone, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA)