One of the most stunning buildings on the Olympic Park site, the spectacular £269 million Aquatics Centre, with its undulating roof of 160 metres in length and 80m in width sweeping up from the ground, was designed by prize-winning international architect Zaha Hadid and took three years to build.
Construction commenced in 2008 and was finished in July 2011, with plans in place for adaptation for use by the local community beyond the Games. The Aquatics Centre forms part of the gateway into the Olympic Park and indeed its roof merges with a bridge that will bring two-thirds of visitors into the complex at the south-east corner of the site.
The venue will host diving, swimming, modern pentathlon and synchronised swimming events, whilst water polo will take place next door at the Water Polo Arena.
It contains a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool, a 50m warm-up pool and a warm-up area for divers. For the Games, there are two temporary stands to seat 15,000 spectators, but these will be removed afterwards, leaving a facility for the local community with seating for 2,500 fans.
It was the most difficult construction project in the Olympic Park, with more than 3,600 workers employed on it. One of the main challenges was balancing a required poolside temperature of 28-30C for the competitors with an under floor cooling system for spectators.
Although spectators should feel the benefit of that cooling system they are advised to wear thin layers of clothing and to drink plenty of water whilst enjoying the events. Free drinking water will be made available.
The plans for redeveloping the centre for public use after the games include movable floors and booms, meaning that pools can be adapted in size for use by swimmers of different abilities, such as those from local schools, clubs or elite groups.
Public facilities: The Aquatics Centre offers guests a range of facilities, including the Games Mobility service, the London 2012 Shop, plenty of refreshments stands, toilets and baby changing facilities. Free drinking water will also be available.
History: Designed in 2004 before the Games was awarded to London, the Aquatics Centre took three years to build, starting in July 2008. As a key part of the Olympic Park for the Olympics and Paralympics it will form part of the legacy of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
What’s on?: Diving (July 29-August 11), swimming (July 28-August 4), synchronised swimming (August 5-10), modern pentathlon (August 11-12).
How do you get there?: As part of the Olympic Park site the Aquatics Centre will be well served by public transport during the Games. It can be reached via rail, underground, Docklands Light Railway, bus or coach. National Rail, London Underground and DLR all serve Stratford station to the east of the park and West Ham station to the south, while Transport for London has bus stops in the area and there will be coach services to the park.
Find it on the map:
Location – in relation to other venues: On the Olympic Park site in Stratford in East London, the Aquatics Centre is adjacent to the Olympic Stadium and the Water Polo Arena.
Location – in Olympic park: The centre is situated to the south-east corner of the Olympic Park and stands at the park's entrance.
Location – on the tube: Closest underground stations are Stratford (Jubilee and Central lines - around 15-minute walk) or West Ham (District and Hammersmith & City lines – around 25-minute walk)