Aquatics Centre

  • The Aquatics Centre has a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool and a 50m warm-up pool.
  • Additional temporary seating increased the 2,500 Legacy capacity to 17,500 spectators during Games time.
  • To reduce embodied energy, we used concrete with up to 70% cement replacement materials.

Arup contributed to the construction of the Aquatics Centre which, after the Games, will be enjoyed by future champions, schools, visitors and local residents. Our multi-disciplinary engineering skills fulfilled architect Zaha Hadid’s vision for the stunning Aquatics Centre. The facility was designed primarily for legacy use with temporary structures built to accommodate spectators during the 2012 Games.

Low-energy legacy

With its distinctive architecture and focus on legacy use, the Aquatics Centre was designed to be sustainable within the most demanding cost constraints. The most effective sustainability measures - such as best practice insulation and envelope air tightness and use of daylight – were built in from the beginning. The main pool hall is naturally lit throughout, the pool tanks are insulated, and an adaptable environmental control system works with the large volume of the hall, using a ventilation system split into local zones that can be turned on and off to meet demand.

We reduced the impact of concrete by using secondary aggregates and cement replacement material. Overall, the Aquatic Centre exceeded the targets set by the client and were given a BREEAM Innovation Credit for the concrete mixes used. The water treatment systems are also demand controlled and our design will help the legacy operator to save money by reducing power, water and chemical consumption. Overall, we reduced potable water use by 42%.

Complex Geometry

To handle the complex geometry involved in the design for both the roof and the main concrete building, the team made extensive use of 3D modelling, with models shared across different specialisms. The resulting unified building is testament to how effectively our specialists worked together. Arup’s culture encourages problem-solving, making it easier for us to explore possibilities and respond creatively to the challenges set by architects and clients.


  • Main pool hall during the One Year To Go event, with audience and swimmers. Credit, Arup.Open gallery

    Arup's multi-disciplinary engineering skills fulfilled Zaha Hadid’s vision.