Getting rid of the fabric wrap for London’s 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium is a “sensible” cost-cutting measure that will not hurt the athletes, Lord Coe has said.
The 20m high, 900m long fabric curtain, a key part of the £516M stadium’s design, was axed as part of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review last month.
This week London 2012 chairman Coe has defended the decision to axe the wrap, which was intended to improve the look of the stadium while minimising wind movement.
“I am very clear the stadium fundamentally has to work for the athletic performance – that was the first thing that I wanted to satisfy myself that we were not infringing upon.
“Would [removing the wrap] infringe on performance?
Looking at all the different things, I think a sensible decision was made,” said Coe.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said the wrap was untenable in the current economic climate. It may not be abandoned if a sponsor can be found.
Stadium designer Rod Sheard had argued that the look of the showpiece venue in Stratford, east London, could be compromised for a £7M saving.
Sheard, senior principal at stadium designer Populous, said: “The entire design team believes the wrap is an integral part of the building, it has always been part of the enclosure strategy and is critical to achieving the visual mystery of the original design, creating a drama that the main venue for this spectacular sporting event deserves.
“I think a sensible decision was made”
“The wrap is used to manage the wind movement through the otherwise open structure, largely for the spectators’ benefit, and whilst the absence of the wrap will not prevent world records being achieved in the stadium, it would not be true to say that it has no effect on the playing conditions within the bowl.
“The concept behind the stadium was to build an elegant building that was lightweight and minimal in its use of materials, but at the same time provide
a screen to hide much of the event functionality that creates visual clutter.
“It’s great that people feel the work that has been completed to date on site is sufficiently elegant to not need further enclosure but perhaps what people don’t realise is that a considerable quantity of very functional conduits, cables, trunking and general services will be added to this highly visible space closer to the Games and it will all be exposed if the wrap isn’t built.”
Structure will “work well without it”
CABE chairman Paul Finch agreed that close attention would now have to be paid to lighting and structural detailing, but said that the stadium’s structure “speaks for itself”.
CABE advises the government on architecture, urban design and public space.
“I understand why the wrap was there, but as an art form the stadium structure works very well without it,” said Finch.
“But without the wrap in place they will have to make sure the lighting is right and the structural detailing is elegant.”