Completed a year ahead of the tournament’s opening ceremony, and three years after construction began, here are a few pictures of the 2012 Aquatics Centre, the last of the permanent venues to be finished.
Intended to be the standout architectural project of the Games, the Aquatics Centre, designed (in her first major London project) by Zaha Hadid, hasn’t always enjoyed great publicity. The projected cost of £75m ballooned to £269m, making the ‘on time, on budget’ claims seem slightly jarring; the early, ambitious designs had to be scaled back, resulting in the temporary ‘wings’ of spectator seating that have diluted its aesthetic appeal; and everybody seems to really love the Velodrome, which has been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. There are also concerns about the Centre’s legacy, and it has thus far struggled to find a post-Games operator.
Yet for all these problems, it’s clear that come next summer the building will be one of the tournament’s icons, trained on by hundreds of foreign media camera lenses and acting as the sinuous backdrop as correspondents reporting back to Seoul, Shanghai and Santiago. In spite of the spectator wings, the Aquatics Centre has an elegance of form inside, where the curving roof’s shape extends to details on the interior, such as the viewing areas and the diving boards, which fit seamlessly into the building’s fabric. Though the consensus may be that it will look better after the Games, the Centre is still going to be the centre of attention during the tournament.
Meanwhile, we were impressed at the chutzpah shown by some journalists claiming to be the “first” to take a dip in the pool. Hacks at the Standard and Channel 4 News boasted at being the first to swim a length. They can’t both be right, can they? After some investigative research, Londonist can confirm that the first person in the pool was in fact Barry “Badger” McSnout, a 48-year old electrician from Purley, who has thus far shunned the limelight.
No doubt about the first person to dive from one of the boards, though: it was Tom Daley, Britain’s great young Olympic hope. Here’s a video of his effort: