London 2012 Olympic Water Polo Arena

Our highly-sustainable, temporary venue for the 2012 Olympic Games was fundamentally different to venues for this sport provided at other Games, tailored specifically for the game of water polo.

A water polo pool interior, with a match being played, and many spectators in the raked seating on either side of the pool

Key information


David Morley Architects


Olympic Delivery Authority



Year of Completion



This high profile 5,000-seat temporary venue hosted water polo during the 2012 London Olympic Games and stood at the main entrance to the Olympic Park. Much of the arena has since been repurposed elsewhere, and the project reflected our commitment to a sustainable Olympic legacy; building permanent venues only where there was a clear long term use.

Designed as a ‘kit of parts’ by David Morley Architects, we designed the building services, HDTV sports and feature lighting, PAVA system, and provided acoustic and sustainability consultancy. 

The exemplar arena went on to win several awards, most notably ‘Sustainable Building of the Year’ in 2013.

Every component of the arena was designed to be reused or recycled, and incorporated pre-existing materials and engineering plant available through the rental market to ensure their continued reuse, and a reduction in construction and deconstruction waste.

We reduced water use by 40% through installing low flow taps and showers, and waterless urinals. Our mixed-mode ventilation strategy for the main spectator stand reduced the ventilation and cooling plant required by 50%.

Acoustic and lighting design

Our acoustic design team developed a solution that maximised the use of hired and reusable components. 

The envelope fabric consisted of recycled phthalate-free PVC, and a critical aspect of our design was to provide sufficient reverberation control to allow good intelligibility of the PA system, without dampening the atmosphere and intensity from the crowd. We investigated the acoustic properties of the fabric and made assessments of crowd noise in similar venues. Reverberation control was provided by micro-perforated fabric liners on the side walls.

For the lighting design, our approach was to avoid the overly bright and polluting lighting installations commonly associated with large events, and instead create a scheme based on colour and movement - gaining the same focus and attention but with much less energy use. 

The roof and sides of the venue had a grid of 120 RGB light fittings which produced animations inspired by the Games. These were shown on the BBC each night in the background, and during aerial film sequences.


reduction in water use


seat capacity


reduction in ventilation and cooling plant

2013 Construction News Sustainable Project of the Year