Zaha Hadid: Olympic Legacy Design

Martyn White

Posted on August 07 2016

Four years after the London Olympic games, discover how the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford has been transformed and the design legacy has left behind.

Four years after the London Olympic games, the attention of the world has now turned to Rio for its next sporting fix. Whilst the London games are now a distant memory of sporting glory that dominated the world for those two magical weeks, a legacy of architecture and facilities remain behind for the public to use and hopefully, inspire the next generation of athletes to make their way onto the sporting stage. Being a huge fan of Zaha Hadid, the Aquatics centre had always been the jewel in the Olympic crown for me. Now Olympic mania reaches across the world once more, I was very interested to discover just how the Aquatics centre has changed after the games.

London Olympic architecture by Zaha Hadid Aquatics Centre legacy Aquatics centre London during the olympic gamesAfter the Olympics the London Aquatics centre

The most noticeable change to the Aquatics centre has been the removal of the "wings" from the sides of the structure. These additions to the building increased the total seating capacity of the venue during the games to 17,500. Upon their removal, the venue now has a total capacity of 2,500 with an option of adding 1,000 additional seats for major events.  

Zaha Hadid architecture London Olympic Aquatics centreIconic architecture Zaha Hadid Olympic legacy Luxury swimming pool design Zaha Hadid

The endless rows of temporary yellow seating have been replaced with towering panes of glass. These vast windows span the entire length of the building on each side, flooding this large open space with natural light and providing visitors with unobstructed views of the surrounding park. Whilst the architecture of the building itself remains unchanged, the windows transform the space, finally allowing us to experience the architects intended design and vision for the aquatics centre. 

 Olympic diving boards concrete design from Zaha HadidModern ceiling from Zaha Hadid Architects Olympic Aquatics centre at night

Four years after the games, the centre is now open for the public to use. The building has finally become a true Zaha Hadid design, an elegant concrete structure mimicking the soft flow and movement of water. The London Aquatics Centre is not only a lasting legacy for athletes and the promotion of sport, it has become a design icon, a landmark, a work of art and an everlasting gift from one of the most talented architects of our time. 

Photographs by Hufton + Crow


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