London 2012 Velodrome

Cycling inspired the concept for the Velodrome: the bicycle is an ingenious ergonomic object that is honed to unrivalled efficiency.

The Velodrome, so clearly the physical representation of the function within, is highly sustainable, engineered to optimum efficiency and represents great value for money, being delivered on budget and ahead of programme. Cycling inspired the concept for the Velodrome; the bike is an ingenious ergonomic object that is honed to unrivalled efficiency and we wanted the same application of design creativity and engineering rigor applied to the building.

Although awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating, the building sports no high-tech renewables - the low-carbon design is all about teamwork and integrated design. Between competition stage and final design 35,000m2 was removed from the building due to an iterative process between the team, reducing the internal volume (and therefore materials required) by 15%.  

The building’s double-curved roof form led to the adoption of a cable-net roof structure, achieving significant savings in terms of both its weight and embodied energy (it has been calculated that approximately 1000 tons of steel have been saved compared to a more standard form of roof). The shape of the upper bowl is also ideally suited to achieving natural ventilation and it is clad with highly-insulated timber panels prefabricated off-site to reduce construction, wastage and the need for at-height working.

As a publicly-funded project in the public eye, the Velodrome was subject to numerous rounds of Value Engineering. These were embraced in a positive manner by the Design Team, leading to further increases in the efficiency of the design and a reinforcement of the original conceptual ideas. Not only did this enable the design to remain on-target in terms of cost but it also ensured that the amount of material and embodied energy utilized was kept to a minimum.

The brief asked for a lasting legacy for the Lower Lea Valley and the Olympic Park after the Games were completed. Our overriding strategy was to design the building for Legacy Mode and then adapt it for Games Mode. The 6,000-seat venue was built to last but also had to add character to this new East London quarter - the ‘Pringle’ has since become an icon.

‘The London 2012 Velodrome is a fine example of the way in which an architect with flair can lead a team of imaginative engineers, contractors and other specialists to create a building that changes the conventions of its type. The Velodrome promises to enhance the experience of every user and visitor to the building for generations to come.’

Nicholas Serota, ODA Board Member


  • Location London, United Kingdom
  • Value Confidential
  • Size 21,700 m²
  • Client Olympic Delivery Authority
  • Year 2011

Selected Awards

  • Archmarathon Sport Award
  • ArchDaily Building of the Year Award (Sports Architecture)
  • Civic Trust Award
  • Civic Trust Awards: Special Award for Olympic & Paralympic Projects
  • Design Museum: Architecture Design of the Year
  • Structural Steel Design Award
  • WAN Award, Civic Building Sector
  • Elle Decoration: British Design Awards, First Place
  • Condé Nast Traveller Innovation & Design Awards: Infrastructure Winner
  • LABC Building Excellence Awards: Best Sustainable Project
  • ICE London Civil Engineering Award
  • New London Architecture Award: 'Play' Winner
  • AJ100: Building of the Year Award
  • New London Architecture Award: Joint Overall Winner
  • RIBA Regional Award
  • RIBA Regional Award: London Client of the Year
  • Architecture and Design Business Stadium Award
  • Stirling Prize: People's Choice
  • BCI Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award
  • The Institution of Structural Engineers Supreme Award for Engineering Excellence