As the venue for indoor track cycling events at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games, the Velodrome is an architectural interpretation of the activities that will take place inside. According to Hopkins Architects, who designed the venue, the Velodrome’s formal expression was inspired by cycling itself, and the care that went into the detailing and construction of the venue parallel the “engineering rigor that goes into the design and manufacture of [a] bike.”
The Velodrome has 6,000 seats (for both the Olympics and after, as a Legacy facility), with the upper and lower seating tiers split by a main public circulation concourse that forms the main entry point. This glass-enclosed concourse allows spectators to maintain contact with the action on the track as they circulate throughout the building. The east and west ends of the building are set into landscaped earth berms that hide the ground level “backstage” athletes’ accommodations from view and visually separates the upper bowl shape from the rest of the facility.
The only portions of the Velodrome that use fabric are at the top of the upper tier of seating and serve largely for masking and security purposes. Fabric is stretched on a slope from the back edge of each rank of the upper tier seating (clamped along the bottom edge with an extruded lufftrack that is bolted to the precast concrete tiers) up to the structural steel ring beam that supports the roof. Fabric panels match the widths of each radially laid out seat section and are tied back to the steel pipe roof ring with clamping plate connections that are tensioned with turnbuckles.