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Raising the roof at the Stadium

The former Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, known simply as the Stadium, has been transformed through the provision of a spectacular new roof.

AS ONE of the landmark venues at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the former Olympic Stadium has been given a new role and a new look as part its legacy to become a world-class sporting and events arena. The original stadium had been designed

and constructed specifically for London 2012 and as such, was given a temporary fabric PVC roof. Once the long-term future of the venue was decided, plans were made to create a permanent roof that would better meet the requirements of the Stadium’s new role as a multi-use space and home of West Ham United FC and the National Competition Centre for UK Athletics. The new roof not only had to be able to cater for the increased capacity but also had to offer an improved acoustic performance to enhance the spectator experience. The solution has been to create what is the largest gravity supported

cantilevered roof in the world. As the appointed roofing specialist, the

Lakesmere Group worked with main contractor Balfour Beatty and architects Populous to deliver the Stadium’s new roof structure that scores highly in terms of both aesthetics and acoustics. Measuring 45,000sq m and with a span of 84 metres at its deepest point, the new acoustically insulated membrane and polycarbonate profiled roof is twice the size of the original roof and has been created using a combination of solid and transparent coverings. In line with the project’s sustainability

targets, although the external columns had to be replaced, almost all of the primary supporting steel for the roof was reused from the existing stadium and was strengthened and reconfigured to support the new roof structure. “The roof itself is suspended on cables

and is in effect a floating roof; it’s a fantastic feat of engineering,” says John Bosley, project manager for Lakesmere. The outer roof section is an acoustic,

single ply membrane roof construction. The trapezoidal steel decking sheets, using shot fired fixings, were installed into the new steel frame followed by acoustic lags and insulation, finally covered by a Fatra single ply membrane. The inner edge of the roof above the field of play is also finished off with a bullnose detail. The inner roof section is a clear

polycarbonate sheeting, trapezoidal in profile, with a number of penetrations for items such as access hatches, stairs and of course the 56 cables that ‘suspend’ the roof. The use of transparent materials also maximises the flow of natural light into the stadium. The roof has also been specifically

designed to achieve high levels of acoustic performance, not only by reducing noise breakout to the surrounding areas by effectively retaining and reflecting crowd noise within the stadium but also by enhancing the clarity of the PA systems.

30 Image: Brett Martin

Keeping on track The Stadium’s new roof was delivered by the same Lakesmere team that worked on the roof of the London Aquatics Centre, yet the job was not without its challenges. Undoubtedly, the main issue was the unmovable deadline to ensure the roof was ready to host several matches as part of Rugby World Cup 2015. Working within an extremely tight

programme meant that speed of installation was paramount and Lakesmere was keen to look at alternatives to traditional methods of fixing such as self-drilling screws to find a process that was less time-consuming and labour intensive. The team collaborated with supply chain partner Hilti to identify a faster solution which enables pins to be ‘shot-fired’ into the steel rather than drilled. One of the most striking features of the

stadium roof is the transparent all-weather shelter which is positioned over a new area of re-locatable seating for 21,000 additional spectators. To achieve this, Lakesmere

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