London’s Olympic Architecture: Natural Ventilation Systems, Gag Orders, and Extreme Dancing

July 20, 2012

One week from today, a cast of 15,000 will partake in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London. Events will be held in a wide variety of structures, both permanent and newly constructed. Depending on which media outlet you consult, some Londoners are proud of the variety of eclectic stadiums which have popped up across the city, while others are displeased with the way these venues have changed the look and feel of their city.

If nothing else, the architectural boom following the winning bid for any Olympics is worth admiring. Firms from all over the globe compete for their designs to be featured in the world’s most-watched sporting event. Interestingly, along with being the first “digital Olympics,” these games are also the most-notoriously privacy-restricted in history: from strict contracts regarding media coverage to bans on private citizens posting photos of the events on social media sites to gag-orders on the architects and engineers who designed and built the stadiums.

The following are a few fun articles about the London Olympic buildings and their creators, inspirations, receptions, and detractors:

Olympics 2012: Innovations going for the gold (Washington Post)

“Innovation goes beyond the athletes to include the venue as well. London 2012’s emphasis on showcasing sustainable green venues for its sporting events may challenge us to re-think public architecture in new ways, just as Beijing’s Bird Nest challenged us to re-think the design of buildings. Who needs air conditioning when you have buildings that use a 100 percent natural ventilation system? (Alright, if you’ve spent any time in the Washington, D.C. area this summer, you might be skeptical about any building that’s air-conditioning free.). Or how about buildings made from recycled construction debris? The London 2012 vision is to re-claim former industrial wasteland in the city by transforming it into a green park area.”

How Regulations Are Stifling Olympic Architects (Atlantic)

“According to the rules, only official sponsors (like McDonald’s and Coca Cola) can promote their involvement in the London games. All others must remain mum about their work.

“That has made it difficult for architects to showcase the stadiums and venues they designed. For example, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the firm responsible for the new basketball arena (above), asked permission from Olympic authorities to enter it for multiple awards. Officials turned the firm down, saying it might conflict with Olympic marketing rules.”

London 2012: No glory for gagged firms (BBC)

“But many people believe the rules have been taken too far, especially as, in the current economic climate, companies could get an extra lift by being able to bask in a little Olympic glory.

“‘We’re in a period where we need to do everything we can to promote these architects’ work overseas,” Mr Murray said.

“‘Although firms are allowed to put just a line on their website, or in some promotional literature, that they’ve been involved, they can’t write to clients, organise their own exhibitions. Some of them have been stopped from entering awards to promote their work,’ he said.

The Olympics venues were built on time and on budget – quite a feat, and something to shout about.”

The Architecture of London’s Olympics (Atlantic – Slideshow)

A slideshow.

“Regardless of the transportation and security snafus of recent weeks, London’s 2012 Olympics will have a lasting architectural legacy. A multi-billion dollar effort to reclaim a substantial amount of neglected land will give east London a dramatically different future.”

London 2012 Festival: ‘Extreme’ Dancers Dive Off Millennium Bridge, Risk Their Lives Atop Other London Landmarks (HuffPo – Video)

“The London 2012 festival in celebration of the Olympic games brings us yet anothercreativeboundary-breakingand awe inspiring performance piece. This time, in the form of breathtaking aerial action dancers who bungee off of, descend from, and dance atop numerous iconic London landmarks.

The following video features two of seven choreographed pieces commissioned for the festival which premiered on Sunday. The collection of pieces, entitled, ‘Surprises: Streb,’ were staggered throughout the day and the performances were only disclosed via twitter the day of the event. The first piece in the video, entitled, ‘Waterfalls,’ features dancers bungee-jumping and aerial dancing off of London’s Millennium bridge. The second piece, ‘Sky Walk,’ takes place atop City Hall, in which the dancers defy gravity and traverse the geometric dome.”

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