Taking the dive

Another artistic-inspired element of the London Aquatic Centre that proved challenging for the design team were the Olympic diving board platforms. Instead of using the community pool-looking diving board, Hadid was inspired to install concrete platforms shaped like moving water. To successfully create this project, her team had to redesign the traditional Olympic diving platform.

London Olympic Aquatic Centre insideTraditional Olympic swimming pools have a series of raised diving platforms with stairs up the back. The ones imagined by Hadid were curved concrete diving platforms with metals stairs leading up from the side. “Hadid wanted to make the diving platform an artistic expression… and keep it for children afterwards to remember the Olympics,” said Jim Heverin, Aquatic Centre project engineer. After five months of laboratory testing and trials Hadid chose to use strong FRP composite molds to create the desired concrete shapes. According to Heverin, Hadid spent longer working on the diving boards than with any building she’s ever completed.

Production Fibreglass, the largest FRP manufacturer in the U.K., was asked to build molds capable of withstanding the pressure of 942,000 pounds of concrete. “The diving platforms were complicated geometric pieces that necessitated a decent concrete surface finish, especially since the finished design would not be painted,” says Phil Dryburgh, president of Production Fibreglass. “Creating the shapes using self-compacting concrete in GFRP/FRP molds was the only viable option to unveil a well-shaped exposed concrete finish.” These molds were created in six months and shipped to the facility. The exposed concrete diving boards were then poured over the steel rib cage overnight to prevent multiple pours.