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Friday | 05 March, 2010 | 3:31 am

Aerodynamic architecture

By Modern Metals' staff

March 2010 - Fast tracks equal fast times. The international cycling stars that qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games will race on a state-of-the-art track at a brand-new facility, where they will hope to turn in the fastest time and be at the top of the podium proudly wearing gold.

The steel structure of the London 2012 velodrome is complete, which makes it on track to be the first venue finished in the Olympic Park. The designers of the structure have worked closely with the designers of the track to tailor the geometry and set the temperature and environmental conditions to create a record-breaking, 250 meter International Cycling Union-approved indoor track.

The velodrome will have 6,000 seats and host the Olympic and Paralympic track cycling events in 2012. Forty-eight thousand cubic meters of material were excavated to create the bowl for the velodrome and more than 900 piles were driven up to 26 meters beneath the ground to complete the foundations of the venue.

The building's design is lightweight and efficient, reflecting the design of a bicycle. It also focuses on several sustainability elements: Daylight pours through strategically positioned rooflights, reducing the need for artificial lighting; water saving fittings built into the design allow collection of rainwater for reuse in building, helping reduce water consumption; and the lightweight cable-net roof structure weighs 30 kilograms per square meter, compared to 65 kilograms per meter squared for the velodrome used for the Beijing Games.

ODA Chief Executive David Higgins said in a press release, "The completion of the velodrome steel structure gives us an exciting glimpse of what will not only be a world-class venue for the Games and legacy but another striking piece of architecture for the Olympic Park.

"The Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre are already firm fixtures on the east London skyline, but the velodrome taking shape has created a new focal point in the north of the Olympic Park," he pointed out.

The velodrome is being constructed by contractors ISG, and more than 2,500 sections of steelwork were installed to complete the steel structure. The steelwork sections rise in height by 12 meters from the shallowest point to the highest part of the structure, helping form the distinct double-curved roof structure, which according to a press release, has been designed to reflect the geometry of the cycling track. Watsons Steel Structures Ltd., Bolton, U.K., supplied the fabricated steel for the velodrome's structure.

After the Olympics' conclusion, a road cycle circuit and mountain bike course will be added to the velodrome and BMX Circuit to create VeloPark, which will become a cycling hub. VeloPark will include a cafe, bike hire, cycle workshop and storage for more than 300 bikes. It will be linked into cycle routes that will connect the facility with the rest of the city.

Shaun Dawson, chief executive of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, who will own, fund and manage the velodrome after the Olympics, said in a press release, "While the construction work has been racing ahead, we've been working closely with our partners to develop a legacy program that will enable everyone from schoolchildren to local clubs to elite cyclists to get the most from this stunning building.

"As the owners, funders and managers of the whole VeloPark in legacy, we'll make sure this first-rate center will be truly world class, welcoming cyclists of all levels and disciplines to train, race or simply cycle for fun. It will be an integral part of the chain of sporting excellence we are creating through the 26-mile long, 10,000-acre Lee Valley Regional Park." MM

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