Sustainability audit criticises design for its lack of environmental features

The architectural design of the Olympic Aquatics Centre, the first major venue to be unveiled for the 2012 games, does not include environmental features, a sustainability audit has revealed.

A review of the sustainability of Zaha Hadid’s aquatics centre has found that environmental features have not been included, even though the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has emphasised its commitment to a sustainable Games.

The report, obtained by Building under the Freedom of Information Act, says: “Sustainable solutions are discussed: however none appears to be applied to the architectural design solution.”

It is understood that the audit, produced last year, contains the most recent information on the sustainability of the Games’ design.

The audit points out that the wave-shaped roof, one of the key features of the design, is opaque, which increases the energy needed for artificial lighting.

The aquatic centre was subject to a redesign to reduce its costs. At its launch on Monday, Hadid said the only real change to it was in the scale of the roof, which had been reduced by almost one-third. She made no mention of sustainability.

The centre will be the first building spectators will see as they arrive for the Games and is being billed as the gateway to the Olympic Park. Observers argue that this means it ought to be demonstrably green.

A source at the ODA said concern over the cost of the design, and the subsequent changes to it, meant that sustainability had taken a back seat but would soon be addressed.

The ODA released the following statement on its approach to the sustainability of the designs.

“The ODA is committed to delivering a sustainable development, and is due to publish its Sustainable Development Strategy in January.

“This will set out challenging standards on sustainability for the design of the venues and the park. The aquatics centre is one of the permanent venues within the park, and the ODA is fully engaged in positive discussions with the Zaha team about how they will meet the ODA’s sustainability objectives as the design evolves.”

David Higgins, chief executive of the ODA, was unable to pinpoint any specific green features of the design but did point out that the building would run on power generated from a CHP biomass system.