|Exterior view of the Velodrome. Picture taken by David Poultney on the 18th Jan 11|
If you haven't seen or heard about the velodrome built for the 2012 London Olympics, you're in for a treat. This stunning building, completed earlier this year, has been winning rave reviews from around the world for its exterior beauty, of which the primary impact are the swooping lines of Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) that form the basic shape of the stadium.
In an excellent review of the structure, architecture writer Hugh Pearman writes:
"It is sheathed in timber – Western Red Cedar - on the outside as a reminder of the track itself which is made of long thin strips of Siberian pine nailed together. It’s like some Futurist vision of speed and movement, this twisting loop of track, somehow all the better for being made in such a hand-crafted way. I looked underneath the track (strictly out of bounds usually), to find that it is supported by big wooden zig-zag joists of the kind you’d more usually find in your attic."Once again the appeal of wood is explained as its usefulness in expressing the artist's vision in a fluid, warm, structural material that seems "to fit", no matter how futuristic the design is.
The London Olympic Velodrome is another grand accomplishment on the way to a future made more hopeful, more livable, and more sustainable by wood.
Take a few minutes to watch this excellent video on the Velodrome produced for its nomination for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
Stirling 2011 - RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist - The Velodrome, London by Hopkins Architects from RIBA on Vimeo.
Here is a more complete list of the wood products used in the construction of the velodrome.