UK Green Building Council

Delivering Sustainable Temporary Venues

19 June 2012 - 8:00am - 10:00am
The Building Centre
26 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT

Resources and Key Learnings from UK-GBC's London 2012 Sustainability Lessons Learned Series

The temporary and overlay facilities constructed for London 2012 are at the cutting edge of design and innovation. On 19 June, the partners involved in their delivery shared the learning from their ultimate challenge: designing distinctive venues that will achieve maximum cost savings, create conditions for high performance but that can be be easily and quickly taken down, reused, relocated, reassembled or recycled, while of course minimising impact on the environment.

This Breakfast Session provided a holistic perspective on creating sustainable temporary venues from the entire project team - from client to architect to supplier. The project teams responsible for delivering several Olympic Temporary Venues made up the high-profile panel, who provided sustainability strategies and their key lessons learned from the project.

Speakers included:

  • Kevin Owens - Design Principal, LOCOG
  • Julian Sutherland - Design Director, Atkins
  • Joanne Larmour - Associate, Arup
  • Sam Wright - Associate Director, Wilkinson Eyre
  • Martin Ostermann - Director, Magma Architecture
  • Jeff Keas - Principal, Populous

Highlights Video

UK-GBC Members can click here to view the full event video (1.5 hours)

Key Messages:

The Client
Kevin Owens set out the principles and thinking behind the design strategy for the games, including a temporary venues and uses. By incorporating a temporary venues strategy, they were able to reduce the build by 25% more than their targets. He summarised the core principles of this strategy as being open to new ideas; open to challenging delivery and procurement; and open to realising the best solution, rather than taking the easiest route and ultimately working towards a holistic conceptual clarity that realises the brand vision through aesthetics, space, materials and structure.

Main lesson learned:  Challenge preconceived ideas on sustainability whenever possible and on all fronts - from procurement and design through to operations. Take into account the environmental and social impacts of the venue from the outset so that they can be ‘designed out’.

Materials Management
Julian Sutherland set the scene, pointing out that there were no precedents for temporary venue delivery at this scale. The main focus of the materials sustainability strategy was minimisation, consciously using smart, high-quality materials and thinking outside the box to achieve a high standard with less. The foundation for this strategy was a simple minimisation diagram, with avoiding/reducing materials as the priority in the design phase; substituting, renting, reusing or recycling in the construction phase and compensating, returning, reusing and recycling in the dismantling stage.

Main lesson learned: Agree a clear, simple strategy for sustainability and communicate it to everyone involved – clarify their part to play in the process. Sustainability is not as hard as you think. It’s not the specialists who are going to make sustainability work – it’s everybody else. Specialists will push things forward, but everyone else will make the change work.

Minimising Transformation (Eton Manor)
Joanne Larmour detailed Arup’s involvement in SMEP and specialist services for Games and Legacy design and specifically focused on the holistic design approach to address sustainability themes for the Eton Manor venue. She highlighted the complicated process of needing to develop the site in three stages, providing: temporary aquatic training and changing facilities at the first stage; transforming into a venue for the Paralympics tennis events at the second stage and finally leaving a legacy of a permanent, flexible 5,000 seat hockey stadium and indoor tennis centre. Sustainability was achieved through resource efficiency; by creating a modular design (the pools can be split up and sold off at the dismantling stage) and by minimising the need for excavation.

Main lesson learned: The key to sustainability is a holistic and collaborative approach by a design team who can think outside the box. Sustainable design and flexibility doesn’t have to cost more – there are a range of small solutions appropriate to your design.

The Architect’s View (Basketball Arena)
Sam Wright explained the vision that the Basketball Arena would be a ‘showcase for British engineering’. The third largest venue on the park, the architects approached the venue as if it were a permanent building in terms of compliance. The main focus in terms of sustainability was to design a building that could be taken down so many sections of the building were disassociated from each other so they could be broken up and put back into the market to be reused (perhaps for the Commonwealth Games). The project saw a move away from descriptive specification to prescriptive specifications and 70% of the venue is recycled content.

Main lesson learned: Challenge the client on requirements if there are changes that can be made that can achieve greater sustainability without compromising performance. Get involved in the process much earlier on and engage with the supply chain as early as possible to find out their limitations and what they can deliver.

The Architect’s View (Shooting Venue)
Martin Ostermann explained that their brief was to design and develop a mobile building (not just a temporary structure) that could be transported and reused for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The design was balanced with technology and materials and consideration was given to the fact that the site would be transformed into a green park following the games. The main structure of the venue was made up of composite materials with limited welding and fixed parts. Ostermann described the main challenge as explaining the nature of temporary buildings, and balancing the need for excellent sporting conditions, sustainability and the specific needs of broadcasters.

Main lessons learned: Involve the design team from first sketch to the end of construction, not just sketch to tender. Transfer knowledge from one place to another – think about the future sites that the mobile venue could end up in – what will the requirements be there?

The Overlay
Jeff Keas explained that overlay had been a consideration from the very start of the bid process. In total, London 2012 required 35+/- sporting venues and 100+ non-sporting venues. The team looked in-depth at London; at existing venues, refurbishment projects and undeveloped spaces and considered the need for new-build venues, temporary venues and overlay. London has almost the same overlay and temporary construction as the last three Olympic Games put together. Jeff Keas team wanted to create a kit of parts to ensure the market’s ability to respond and the efficiency of the operations. They mapped the users’ journey and their experiences to determine what would be required of the venues and the ‘kit’ that would enable them to achieve this.

Main lessons learned: Consider the whole life cycle/cost of temporary venues; the construction cost might be high but there will be no ongoing cost or burden for operating, maintaining, etc. in the years to follow.

Click here to see the write up from this event by Architects Journal Sustainability editor, Hattie Hartman.

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