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London 2012 Aquatics Centre is buildable, say ODA

The Olympics Delivery Authority yesterday refuted claims by BBC London that the London 2012 aquatics centre roof was unbuildable.

The BBC London report on Tuesday 1 July included claims that the roof of the venue may be too complicated to be built and concerns of a potential supplier that there wouldn't be enough of a specified timber available to build the roof, the material had not been used in a swimming poll environment before and it would not be 'bendy' enough for the wavy roof contours

In response to the BBC London report, the Olympic Delivery Authority today insisted that the construction is on track and will in fact start ahead of schedule this month.

The sweeping roof is an steel structure with an aluminium covering. It is made up of long span fan trusses which cantilever approx 32m past the supports and are approximately 11.5m deep at their largest point. Two arches either side of the roof help to create the roofs undulating shape.

Zaha Hadid Architects have worked closely with engineers Arup and the main contractor Balfour Beatty to finalise the construction plan for the roof, including maintenance access in legacy.

The team is currently considering different types of timber cladding for the internal ceiling of the venue and walls. The timber selected will be tested over the next six to twelve months to ensure it works both for the Games and in legacy before installation in 2010.

"The innovative building structure design is finalised and the contractor is on site and ready to start construction ahead of schedule this month," said ODA Aquatics Centre Project Sponsor John Nicholson.

"As is standard on any project we are progressing the detailed design development which includes considering a range of materials for particular elements, such as timber cladding. Materials will be thoroughly tested to ensure they work for both the Games and legacy."

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: "Our experienced team has engaged with the supply chain to develop the conceptual design and utilise their expertise to prepare construction information."

The Zaha Hadid designed Aquatics Centre is located in the south of the Olympic Park and will be the main ‘Gateway into the Games’, hosting Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo finals and the swimming discipline of the Modern Pentathlon.

The Aquatics Centre will have a capacity of 17,500 during the Games, reducing to a maximum of 2,500, with the ability to add 1000 for major events in legacy, and provide two 50m swimming pools and a diving pool, facilities that London does not have at present.

Planning permission has been achieved and Balfour Beatty has recently been appointed to build the Aquatics Centre and huge land-bridge that forms the roof of the training pool and the main pedestrian access to the Olympic Park, construction work will start by the Beijing Games and be complete in 2011.

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