Design for 2012 Olympic stadium unveiled

A flurry of rhetoric marked the unveiling of the winning design for London's Olympic stadium yesterday, as it was claimed the £496m project would be a "beacon" for London and herald a new era in stadium design.

The innovative stadium was praised for its post-Games potential. The plan has pioneered state-of-the-art engineering to allow its transformation from an 80,000 -capacity venue to just 25,000 after the event.

The project is being led by the architects HoK Sport. Rod Sheard, of the company's Team Stadium, said: "The design is a response to the challenge of creating the temporary and the permanent at the same time – that is the essence of the design for the stadium. A new era of Olympic stadium design will be launched in 2012, demonstrating how a successful event can be blended with the long-term needs of the community."

The venue, which will be surrounded on three sides by water, will host the track and field events as well as the opening ceremony for the Games. But once the last Olympian leaves in 2012, it will be transformed into a multi-purpose community venue for athletics and sport.

To allow this to happen easily, permanent seating is sunk into the ground, while the 55,000 temporary seats can be removed from their tiered circles above.

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said the design would "act as a beacon symbolising the extraordinary transformation and regeneration of east London", adding that it "must be the most environmentally sustainable stadium ever constructed anywhere on the face of the planet".

But fears that it will be a white elephant have not yet been assuaged, as no post-2012 bids are yet in place to make use of the stadium. Mr Livingstone said he was not surprised by the lack of bidders. "It is really inconceivable that anyone would have signed up to occupy a stadium before they could see it," he said. "Now that we have this design, I think we will move very rapidly on negotiations."

Futuristic pods arranged around the structure will be used to house food facilities and amenities. A vast cable-supported roof will cover two-thirds of spectators.

Building is set to be completed in 2011. To ensure the sustainability of the project, temporary walls will be made from fabric painted with Olympic motifs that can then be removed and reused. Talks are being held to investigate turning this fabric into souvenir bags, and the temporary seating will also be sold off.

The change in budget for the stadium – from £280m in the 2004 estimate to the current estimate of £496m – has been put down to inflation and VAT. John Armitt, chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said: "Nearly £500m is a lot of money in anyone's terms but it is the budget and we are determined to work within that."

Rising costs

6 July 2005

London erupts into citywide partying after beating Paris to win the right to host the 2012 Olympics. The government announces a "robust" estimate of the costs saying they will run to approximately £2.4bn.

November 2006

A survey of industry specialists estimates final cost will reach £11.9bn. London 2012, meanwhile, admits stadium cost will rise from £280m to approximately £500m.

February 2007

A secret "worst case scenario" budget leaked to the press reveals that the Government expects the total bill to exceed £9bn.

March 2007

Tessa Jowell tells the Commons that the revamped Olympic budget has risen to £9.3bn, nearly four times the original estimate.

September 2007

Dispatches investigation accuses Tessa Jowell of knowing that the Olympic budget would overrun 16 months before admitting it.

June 2007

Controversial Olympics logo is revealed and widely panned by critics. The total cost of developing the logo ran to £400,000.

Yesterday

Officials release details of £496m 80,000-seat stadium that will serve as the centrepiece of the 2012 Olympics. It is nearly double its original cost. An aquatic centre, to be built by Balfour Beatty, has also risen from £75m to £150m.

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