The Games have been a catalyst for urban regeneration in East London, fast tracking 25–30 years of planned work into just a decade and creating the largest new park in the city for over 100 years. Our philosophy of ‘embrace the temporary’ has allowed the freedom to showcase London, using it as a backdrop to create defining moments – volleyball on Horse Guards Parade, the silhouette of a horse jumping in Greenwich Park – that will stand as a symbol of the Games for decades to come. The Stadium will also deliver an athletics legacy for London, part of which will be the hosting of the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships.
From a technical perspective, the brief’s main challenge was to create a structure that could be both temporary and permanent – capable of holding 80,000 spectators during the Games themselves but becoming a more manageable 25,000 seat stadium after the Olympics. “This scale of reconfiguration had never been attempted before,” says Populous Senior Principal, Rod Sheard, “and so we had to ‘embrace the temporary’ and rethink
the way we design a Stadium, exploring materials, structure and operational systems in a completely different way.”
There are many advantages to overlay. Firstly – most obviously – it means that you avoid being left with any ‘white elephants’, permanent structures that have no use once the Games are over. Secondly, it gives freedom: it’s thanks to overlay that we’re able to stage equestrian events at a world heritage site in Greenwich Park. Thirdly, it adds flexibility to permanent structures, as with the Stadium itself. A venue can be expanded to meet the Games’ requirements, then revert to a more manageable size thereafter.
Overall, London 2012 will have temporary structures equivalent to the number of permanent structures built for the last three summer Games, including 250,000 modular seats, 165,000m² of tents, 140km of fencing, 250km of crowd barriers and 100,000m² of temporary sports surfaces.