Copper Box, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; Copper Box, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park;

Copper Box, London

A sporting venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games

The Handball Arena, or Copper Box, is one of only four permanent venues in London’s Olympic Park and the third largest indoor arena in London. During the 2012 Games the venue accommodated up to 7,500 spectators and hosted three events: the handball tournament, the fencing element of the modern pentathlon and the Paralympic goalball competition. Since the Olympics, it has become a valued community resource for sports and events.

Arup provided all of the engineering services for the project, working alongside architects, Make, to realise a simple, cost-effective and flexible building.

Project Summary


60% of the year no artificial lighting is needed

A natural lighting approach

Many of the building's innovative features relate to its lighting scheme. An open, glazed concourse brings natural light into the arena to improve the wellbeing of visitors. Eighty-eight light pipes also bring natural light into the arena ensuring that for 60% of the year no artificial lighting is needed. During the Games, built-in shutters allowed the pipes to be blacked out and replaced by artificial lighting to meet the needs of broadcasters.

Designing the Copper Box demanded technical expertise and an in-depth understanding of the unique requirements of the athletes, spectators and broadcasters who would make use of the stadium. We drew on our experience working on previous Olympic Games venues to assemble an international team of lighting, acoustics, fire and structural specialists from the UK, Australia and China to complete the project.

Designing for the future

With its resilient design, the Copper Box has offered value beyond its original purpose as a facility for the Olympic Games. The venue was created with an adaptable design, which has since enabled it to accommodate a wide range of uses beyond handball, fencing, and goalball. Basketball, netball, badminton, boxing, e-sports, and even product launches are just some of the many uses that the facility now supports. This multi-purpose capability enables the Copperbox to provide people with a diverse range of events to enjoy, as well as offering new employment opportunities.