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Velopark: From tip to tiptop track

The £80M Velopark, built on the site of an old rubbish dump at the northern end of the Olympic Park, will host many of the Games' cycling events.

It's early days yet for the Velopark, with the contract for construction only awarded in May. But it has the potential to become a world-class cycling hub. For the Games, a 6,000-seat velodrome will be built alongside a BMX circuit with 6,000 temporary seats.

Post Olympics, a mile-long road cycle track will be built with a mountain bike trail, bringing all
the cycling disciplines together in one location for what is thought to be the first time.

The velodrome will be at the heart of the Velopark. Initial concept designs of the distinctive submission, showing a striking double curvature roof which spans 120m at its widest, were revealed when the design team Đ led by Hopkins Architects and comprising consultants Expedition Engineering (structural and civils), BDSP (services) and landscape architect Grant Associates - won the competition in July last year.

The initial Velodrome concept designs are now being developed into detailed proposals with contractor ISG Interior Exterior, which was appointed by the ODA in May. Developed proposals are due to be revealed this month (August). ISG Interior Exterior is working with the design team to ensure the solutions are buildable and are progressed within budget.

"We are working with the design team and ISG to look at materials, steel, timber, cable net and trying to find the best solution," says ODA project manager, Richard Arnold. "Nothing is set in stone. Stage C was largely based on a steel solution, but that is no way fixed. We're looking at timber or cable net for the roof. There are a few things we've tried to hang on to and one of them is the roof Đ It's double curvature, some refer to it as the 'pringle'. Another is the mid-podium ring of glazing."

This ring of glazing will allow light into the velodrome's interior. There is a complete circle of seats at ground level which will seat 3,500 and an upper tier which will seat 2,500. In between the two there is a mid-podium walkway, which is partly external and partly internal, and follows the ring of glazing.

"We looked at other velodromes which are often quite dark and depressing," says Arnold. "We were keen to maintain the visual link and good views across the park."

The site will be given over to the contractor in the early part of next year with completion set for the end of 2010. "From the ODA point of view, the venue will be delivered and out of the way well in advance, but it will also give the British squad an opportunity to train in advance," says Arnold.

Not just here for the ride - the Velopark's legacy

The velodrome is only one part of the Velopark. BMX is part of the Olympics for the first time in Beijing and the BMX track for 2012 will be situated next to the velodrome. "It's new so no one knows a lot about it," says Arnold.

"We will leave it in legacy, but we will need to restyle the BMX course in legacy because the jumps and lumps in an Olympics course are pretty horrendous. Only a few people in the world can ride the course.

In legacy we're trying to make it fit for everyone."

During the games, the road cycling will take place in Regent's Park and the mountain biking is moving from the originally proposed Weald Country Park in Essex, with the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) currently discussing other suitable locations.

However, post Games, a mountain bike course and one-mile road cycle track will be built
at the Velopark to provide a unique combination of cycling facilities. This drawing of all the cycling disciplines into one place contributed to the decision to retain all the Olympic seating
after the games had finished.

"The original intention in the bid was to reduce the seating down from 6,000 to 3,000 in legacy, but we, along with the operator in legacy, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, decided that there was huge potential for cycling in London," says Arnold.

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