Zaha Hadid's Aquatics Centre will 'look nicer' post Olympics, IOC admits

Will Hurst

Appearance of landmark 2012 venue compromised by water wings

Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre is going to look “nicer and more beautiful” after 2012 than it will during the games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has admitted.

The £269 million venue, which will host the swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and modern pentathlon competitions, was won by Hadid through a major competition and was billed as London’s main architectural statement with its signature wave-life roof.

But billions of people around the world will see the design compromised by the addition of the two giant “wings” needed to accommodate an extra 15,000 seats during the games, according to the IOC.

The two temporary grandstands will be dismantled afterwards, reducing the venue’s capacity to just 2,500 permanent seats.

Denis Oswald, the chairman of the IOC’s coordination commission which concluded its three-day visit to London on Friday, said: “Of course, I have a feeling that the look after the games might be nicer and more beautiful than it will be during the games, but I think it’s not so important for just a few weeks of the games.

“What is more important is to have a venue which fits the purpose after the games and that you don’t have 10,000 or more seats which are never utilised for aquatic competition and which you have to maintain.

“On balance, we have to accept that the aesthetic is not as good as it will be afterwards, but there are many good reasons to explain that.”

However, Oswald lauded the design of both Hopkins’ velodrome, which he said was “technically one of the best in the world”, and the athletes’ village, which he and his inspection team also toured last week.

“The village is excellent and is certainly one of the best villages ever for the athletes,” Oswald said. “Things have been planned with an idea of the future in order not to leave white elephants.”

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