By Matt Neundorf
on 4.2.12
Photo by Hopkins

The roof of the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome was designed to reflect the very events it would house. Its curved and contoured shape is a three-dimensional representation of the geometry of cycling. While Ron Webb remains the go-to designer for Olympic cycling pavilions, the skilled architects at Hopkins were able to deliver 230,000 square feet of minimalist, ergonomic Zen for athletes, spectators and the environment.

Learn more about this impressive structure you’re bound to see via blimp this summer on the next page.

The main challenge Hopkins faced is that cyclists seeking record breaking performances prefer lower air density. This means that the lower bowl containing 34.8 miles of Siberian Pine track must be kept hovering around 82.4 degrees. To achieve this while keeping the 6,000 spectators cool has traditionally meant sacrificing environmental concerns by keeping the heat on and the AC cranked. The Velodrome, however, employs natural lighting and ventilation, a fully glazed concourse and its elevated roof peaks to maintain harmonic balance.

A design technique called Thermal Mass also aids in this struggle, in addition to plentiful portions of exposed concrete. While it may sound unfinished, the concrete actually acts as a heat exchange system and regulates temperature by absorbing heating or cooling as needed, and then slowly diffusing it back into the building. Pile on dramatically improved insulation and an otherwise air tight design, and maintaining the dual climate zones here is as easy as it is in your daily driver.

Whether your personal tastes find the Cedar clad Velodrome to be as visually stunning as the British, or simply a sleeker version of Calgary’s Olympic pavilion from the winter 1988 is purely subjective. The Olympic Velodrome recently won the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) peoples poll with an overwhelming 62.9% of the vote. We’ve got more images below.

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