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Architect Zaha Hadid returns to London Aquatics Centre to see her original ‘wave’ building design

Architect Zaha Hadid at the London Aquatics Centre, which she designed. Picture: Rahil Ahmad. Architect Zaha Hadid at the London Aquatics Centre, which she designed. Picture: Rahil Ahmad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
4:34 PM

The London Aquatics Centre has undergone a dramatic transformation since the end of the Paralympic Games to bring it into line with acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid’s original design.

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The swimming poolThe swimming pool

Gone are the white wings which provided an additional 15,000 seats. Left in their stead are 628 glass panels which offer an almost complete panoramic of the centre’s urban surroundings and allow light to flood into the enormous atrium.

She explained the “wave and water” as well as marine life had inspired her design, in particular the curved roof.

“We were always looking at marine life,” she said, adding: “If you were in the water [looking up at the roof], you could be under some sort of [marine] species.

“But it was really about the wave and how I could interpret it.”

The Aquatics Centre. Picture by Anthony Charlton for LLDC.The Aquatics Centre. Picture by Anthony Charlton for LLDC.

The dual use of the building, which needed extra capacity during the Games but now has 2,500 spectator seats, impacted on its design.

Hadid was voted one of the 100 most powerful women in the country last year.

She said: “I had to make a roof where the ceilings could expand beyond it. The capacity was very big.”

She said she was “fine” with the addition of the wings and thought the venue was “very special” after its transformation into legacy mode.

New look Aquatics centre with 2,800sq metres of glassNew look Aquatics centre with 2,800sq metres of glass

“I like that you can see beyond the boundaries of the building. It becomes much more urban,” she added.

As well as hosting major swimming and diving competitions, the centre is focused on providing a swimming pool for the community.

Hadid said: “I think that these projects are important because I always think that, especially for kids or for the people in London, you need something in your proximity to enjoy and also to show that it’s a nice place.

“It opens their eyes to other worlds, which is very important.

“There’s no line between who can use [the centre] and not. It is for the public and I think it is a great building.

“I live here in London, so I have a particular interest in buildings in the city.”

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