Book Review: London 2012 Sustainable Design, Delivering a Games Legacy

© Philipvile.com Lee Valley White Water Centre

If you are at all interested in sustainability at London's 2012 Olympics then this is the book, or should that be bible, for you. Hattie Hartman, an architect who writes about sustainability for The Architect's Journal has written the complete reference to everything you ever wanted to know about this summer's Games--and more.

Regeneration and legacy have been the defining themes of London 2012 and in the book Hartman gives an in-depth look at every aspect of this goal, from an analysis of the Master Plan to a discussion of each building project. Having interviewed and had access to all the architects and professionals involved, and having the expertise to analyse it, she provides detailed design and sustainability information for each project.

The Olympic site was created in a poor and desolate part of London. The legacy to the surrounding community in terms of new facilities and infrastructure was of the utmost importance in the planning of the site. There is no question that the construction of a massive new park, affordable housing and community facilities will be a huge boost to the development of the east end of London.

This TreeHugger has already reviewed some of the high profile sporting venues on the site.

The Lee Valley White Water Centre (above) is one of the smaller sporting venues, an artificial white water rapids for the canoe slalom course. Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, it is one of the most intensive users of energy because it relies on electric pumps to move the water. The most critical design factors was to minimise the operation of the pumps. To do this, a 1.2M deep lake was created to supply the water for the course.

The building is clad in Western Red Cedar, and will be used as a community facility afterwards. It will be a permanent canoe, kayak and white water rafting centre after the Games.

© ODA Pudding Mill Lane Pumping Station

But the book gives information about some smaller, good looking and solid buildings that are also worthy of note. For example, the infrastructure building, the award-winning Pudding Mill Lane Pumping Station. Designed by John Lyall Architects, it is one of the smallest structures built on the site.

This little gem turns the pumping station inside out so that the public can see how it works. The bright pink odour filtration tanks shine in the night and are a beacon to the area. That's a whole lot more interesting than a concrete wall, and a lot cheaper too. The surrounding walls have nineteenth century engineering drawings embossed on them. Suddenly a utilitarian pumping station becomes a delight. As for every building, an Environmental Profile is included. This one uses 11% recycled content (in situ concrete) and 76% recycled aggregate.

© John Lyall Architects Old Ford Water Recycling Plant

The Old Ford Water Recycling Plant recycles sewage to irrigate the Olympic Park. Designed by John Lyall Architects, along with the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) and Thames Water, it was meant to be a low-key, environmental building, hidden away in a small wood.

The cladding is larch, there are gabion walls where birds and bugs can live and crushed Somerset stone was used because it blends in with the surroundings. This was slightly controversial because the ODA felt that recycled material from the Park should be used. A pond was included, as the design was created with the input of the London Wildlife Trust.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a major plus for the area. It will transform 2.5 square km. of contaminated brownfield into the biggest new park in Europe. It will act as a green lung for the east of London and link up to a regional park in the north. It is designed as a balance of different habitats including 30 bridges, formal gardens, pedestrian and cycling paths and natural, ecological areas.

The planting is ecological rather than just pretty. Almost 700 wildlife installations have been incorporated, wildflower meadows and wet woodland habitats and drought resistant trees and plants.

The book was written as part of a series of commemorative books of the London 2012 and Paralympic Games. So there is not anything negative, which some would say is not the whole story. However, hats off to Hattie Harman for this comprehensive work. For design professionals and Olympic anoraks, this is an invaluable source book for future communities and Olympic cities.

Tags: Architecture | London | Olympics | Recycled Building Materials | Water Conservation