London 2012: Velodrome by Hopkins Architects

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2012 Venues at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London Video courtesy of AOL 5min | Watch Mojo

Hopkins Architects’ design for the London 2012 Olympic Games Velodrome reflects the elegance, efficiency, and sustainability of the sport it supports.

The Olympic track cycling venue, or Velodrome, by Hopkins Architects, is considered the most sustainable venue in the Olympic Park in terms of design and construction. The overall inspiration for the design was the bicycle – a fitting choice, considering the building’s purpose. In a monograph published by The Architects’ Journal, Hopkins Architects senior partner Mike Taylor says, “Right from the off, we wanted it to feel like a bicycle in terms of its engineering, i.e., very taut and nothing superfluous. Everything trimmed down to the minimum.”

The shape of the building, defined by the curve of its roof structure, was designed to reflect the geometry of the cycling track. Dipping over the building’s center, the lowered roof reduces the interior volume, minimizing the amount of energy necessary to heat and cool the space. The curving shape also enhances the building aesthetically. The roof system is constructed of a cable net; at 30kg/m2, the weight of this net structure represents a continued improvement over previous comparable structures.

Exterior of London's Olymipic Velodrome by Hopkins Architects

The track geometry, as well as interior temperature and environmental conditions, were carefully attended to in order to create an optimal cycling environment. The track surface is constructed of sustainably sourced Siberian pine.

Six thousand seats, divided across two tiers, were placed all the way around the track to create the best possible viewing experience. Daylight enters the space through rooflights, as well as through full-height windows that run along a concourse between the seating tiers. Western Red Cedar timber cladding not only adds visual appeal to the Velodrome’s exterior but allows for openings that permit natural ventilation.

The track of London's Olymipic Velodrome by Hopkins Architects

Other programmatic elements include a café, changing rooms, cycle workshop, bike rental office, and storage for over 300 bikes. The Velodrome is a permanent structure and it will be linked to cycling routes across London. Eventually, a road cycle circuit and mountain bike course will be added, and the entire facility will be operated as the Lee Valley VeloPark.

The Velodrome recently won the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award. In response, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is quoted on the Hopkins website as saying, "Not only does the Velodrome represent a fantastic investment in sport, it's a world class achievement in British architecture and design. Its distinctive sweeping roof is already a new icon for London which has transformed the landscape of Stratford. I congratulate everyone involved in its innovative design for being honoured with such a well deserved accolade."

Kristin Dispenza

Kristin graduated from The Ohio State University in 1988 with a B.S. in architecture and a minor in English literature. Afterward, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and began to work as a freelance design journalist, having regular assignments with Seattle’s Daily Journal of Commerce.

After returning to Ohio in 1995, her freelance activities expanded to include writing for trade publications and websites, as well as other forms of electronic media. In 2011, Kristin became the managing editor for

Kristin has been a features writer for since January 2010. Some of her articles include:

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