Recycled Venues: Life After The Olympics

London Olympic organizers set new standards for sustainable venues.
 London Olympic Stadium 2012

It was only a few years ago when Beijing proudly unveiled National Stadium, also known as the “Bird’s Nest” an architecture marvel and centerpiece for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Unfortunately, just four years after the venue was built, Reuters photographer David Gray captured a series of disheartening images revealing to the world an unused and neglected facility.  While on site, Gray also discovered that several other Olympic buildings including the rowing, beach volleyball and cycling facilities, all built new, were rusting and beginning to fall apart.

According to NPR reports, Ai Weiwei, the highly praised artist who consulted on the design of the Bird’s Nest felt the structure has become propagandized and failed to be integrated into the life of the city. For this reason, the artists had refused to go inside the stadium.

With limited use since the 2008 Games, the estimated $10 million to maintain the structure is unavailable, leaving the once thriving building vulnerable to decay.

In an effort to avoid the “chronic Olympic legacy” and financial burden, 2012 London Olympic organizers are taking a closure look at sustainability – hoping to extend the shelf life of these expensive and unique venues.

According to an article by International Herald Tribune, as there was no need for permanent facilities – many of the London 2012 host buildings were designed as “temporary venues” that can be recycled or dismantled.


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According to reports, the 12,000-seat basketball court might be “the most temporary grand building in Olympic History”. Event organizers are confident the entire structure including court, infrastructure, changing rooms and all 12,000 reusable spectator stands can be easily deconstructed.

The 55,000-seat Olympic stadium is built using one third the amount of steel used to construct the Bird’s Nest and the roof will be completely dismantled following the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Inevitably, the 600,000 additional visitors to Games will put a strain on the urban area in areas of transportation, fuel use and pollution – but recent efforts to maintain sustainable structures may set a new bar for future Olympic host cities.  

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