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London 2012 - Olympic Shooting Venues

Three halls, wrapped in crisp white membranes with brightly coloured dots - these are the Shooting Venues designed by magma architecture for the 2012 Summer Olympics. They are located on the grounds of the historic Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, London.

Architects: magma architecture, Berlin
Location: London, Woolwich Arsenal Station

The aim is for London 2012 to go down in the annals of Olympic history as the 'Legacy Games'. The city won the competition against other candidates like Paris, Moscow or Madrid, because it was able to offer a convincing vision for the time after the games: competition sites built for the world's largest sporting event, but not for eternity. Most of the structures can be reduced in size, used for other functions, or be dismantled completely or partially – a new Olympic Games category in a way, one involving mobile and transformable structures. A total of 300,000 temporary visitor seats are available.

The Olympic and Paralympic Shooting Venues by magma architecture are a good example of this concept. The competitions in 10-, 25- and 50-metre sport shooting will be held on the grounds of the historic Royal Artillery Barracks. The temporary facility consists of three halls, forming an urban ensemble on the former training area in the south-east London district of Woolwich. The Shooting Venues can claim to be the largest competition site outside the Olympic Park.

Shooting is a sport in which the course and result of the competition can hardly be perceived by the human eye. In comparison, the appearance of the sporting venue is a restful holiday for the eye: the building construction is completely covered in a white membrane with bright easy-to-focus-on discs of colour set into high and low points, creating undulations in the façades. These openings structure the building envelope as well as allowing natural ventilation. They are arranged according to their function as main entrances or ventilation inlets, and serve to maintain the necessary tension in the membrane.

A total of 3,800 places for visitors are provided for a completely enclosed range for the finals, and two partially enclosed ranges for the qualifying rounds. The 107-m and 52-m long halls for the preliminaries are open to the exterior along the firing line. The open air range for archery and shooting at moving clay targets (trap and skeet shooting) has an additional 2,600 seats.

The shooter line, where the athletes line up, separates the membrane-covered seating area from the shooting area. Plywood-clad deflection panels above the shooting area protect spectators from ricochets. The outside of this cladding is painted white so that they form one visual unit with the membrane façades.

Meeting the demanding sustainability criteria set by the client ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) made the design of the venue particularly challenging. Important aims included minimising material usage and energy consumption. The construction furthermore had to be easy to store, transport and reuse.

The foundations of the buildings, which do not have any basements, are a pure steel construction. The support loads are transferred to foundation piles in the ground via cross-shaped steel plates. The steel pipe piles were made out of recycled oil pipes and will be removed again together with the building construction once the event is over. The foundation can also be reused in a different location.

The steel construction of the halls is based on a modular system of truss beams and supports which also specifies the size of the halls. After the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the components will be used for other constructions. Every connection has therefore been designed to also permit easy dismantling. No composites or adhesives were used. The height of the trusses allows span widths of up to 47 metres without requirement of any supports in the spectator areas. The construction is braced in statically relevant areas by means of steel rods and tie bars between the inner and outer building envelope.

The three halls are clad with 18,000 m² phthalate-free PVC membrane. The 100% recyclable PVC was selected on the grounds of its tensile strength, thermal properties and transparency. The double-curvature geometry results from optimal use of the material. The membrane is stretched using steel rings, which prevents it from 'flapping' in the wind. In addition, accumulation of water is prevented by the unevenness of the surfaces.

The brightly coloured, perforated membranes fitted between the steel rings allow air infiltration and ventilation, as well as serving as doorways at ground level. Natural ventilation of the halls is facilitated by a second inner membrane. The two-metre-wide space created acts as an insulation layer and conducts an air current permitting cool fresh air to come in and warm used air to exit in the upper area. The translucent membrane allows a reduction in the amount of artificial lighting required thanks to some natural daylight illumination. Only the hall for the finals differs: it is covered by a light-impermeable membrane composed of three layers to satisfy transmission media requirements.

After the event, materials including membranes, tension rings and connections will be packed and brought to a different venue. Two of the three mobile buildings are scheduled for use in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The standard trusses will be returned to the construction company after final disassembly.

Client: ODA, Olympic Delivery Authority
Design: magma architecture, Berlin
Truss system: ES Global Ltd, London
Membrane manufacturer: Serge Ferrari, F–La Tour-du-Pin
Membrane realisation: Base structures, GB–Bristol

Competition: 2010
Construction time: April – December 2011

Seats: 3,800 in total
Plot area: 14,000 m²
Dimensions: Finals Range: 105 m x 47 m
25m Range: 56 m x 22 m + 27 m for field of play  without roof
10/50m Range: 107 m x 20 m + 51 m for field of play without roof
Steel construction weight: approx. 1,100 t in total

magma architecture was founded by architect Martin Ostermann and exhibition designer Lena Kleinheinz in 2003. It is the only non-British architecture firm appointed to design a sporting venue for the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in England.

www.magmaarchitecture.com

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