The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Click to see full size; Aquatics Centre © Sarah J Duncan
Aquatics Centre © Sarah J Duncan
Aquatics Centre © Sarah J Duncan

100 Buildings 100 Years

2012: Aquatics Centre, London

Status: Unlisted
Condition: Good condition
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Location: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 2ZQ

The Aquatics Centre is an astonishing legacy of the 2012 Olympics. Designed by Zaha Hadid in 2004 before London won the bid, it went through a number of transformations before its present incarnation as the most spectacular neighbourhood pool in the UK. Dominated by its wave-like roof, the original design was revised to cut costs and then modified again in order to accommodate 18,000 spectators during the games, when it acquired two wings.

In March 2014 it reopened, with the wings replaced by two stunning glass walls. The facilities now include a 50m competition pool, the diving pool immortalized by Tom Daley and a 50m training pool. The 50m pool is 3 metres deep, and the diving pool has platform boards at heights of 3m, 5m, 7.5m and 10m all made out of curved concrete.

Swimming in the pool is a sensational experience, getting into the building less so as the apparently grand entrance is not the way in and access appears to be underground. Apart from this minor defect, it stands as one of the few venues in Olympic history ever genuinely to have become a local community asset.

by Paul Lincoln

London Aquatics Centre 

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