5 July 2011

London 2012 Olympics – The Recyclable Basketball Stadium Nears Completion

Just when you had started scratching your head and wondering what on earth London was going to do with all the various stadia being built for the 2012 Olympics, along comes something that restores your faith (partly at least) in the common sense of the organisers and perhaps even the government (though that may be pushing it).  Take a look at the new Olympic Basketball Stadium – the nearest thing to flat pack that the London 2012 Olympics will have.

Building started in 2010 (see above). Depending on your aesthetic sensibilities the stadium may look like an upturned white foot rest or perhaps a minimalist triumph of the less is more school of architecture.  Yet the word I would use for it is inspired at least in an environmental sense.  After the Olympics are over this can be taken apart, very simply, piece by piece and shipped off anywhere in the world – complete or piecemeal.

It could be described as deconstructivist in style but most certainly as deconstructable – two words which I am not sure even exist but they should!  The fact that it can be shipped off – perhaps even to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 – means that London will at least have one less hugely expensive white elephant of a stadium to maintain once the Olympic crowds have disappeared. This is in stark contrast to other countries who have hosted the games.

Greece stands out a mile and a half for the exorbitant waste of money it spent on the 2004 Olympics. The final bill was over US$10b and many of its standout buildings have been left to fend for themselves while the rest of the country goes to financial hell in a handbasket (or sports bag perhaps). 

Even the authorities in Beijing are not quite sure what to do with their old stadia in a city populated by almost twenty million people. A short time ago a group of European swimmers turned up to the famous bird nest swimming pool looking for a splash or two in the pool but were turned away by the bewildered caretakers. Swim? Here? Pardon?

 So at least London seems to be getting things right with one venue. Designed by the Wilkinson Eyre partnership of architects together with the KSS design group its temporary nature is the crowning glory of its design.  You may perceive it, from the outside to be beautiful; you may observe it as hideous.  However you see this stadium one thing is for sure.  If it isn’t needed after 2012 it can be taken apart and redistributed – unlike the other stadia. Hurrah for basketball.

One last thought... If a buyer cannot be found after the 2012 Olympics interested in keeping the building as a basketball stadium perhaps the organisers could as Ikea if they are interested!