Tom Daley visits London Aquatics Centre under construction, Dec 2010

The Secret FRP of the London Olympics

The highly praised London Aquatics Centre, designed for the 2012 summer Olympics by Zaha Hadid, presented a very high-profile use of FRP, although simply looking at the objects in question might not reveal the FRP connection.  The elegantly curved  diving platforms are made of concrete cast in FRP molds.  Shaped to resemble moving water itself, they are the result of months of testing before the decision was taken to use high-strength FRP forms.  The forms had to support up to 942,000 pounds of concrete. The result, however, are shapes that seems to rise almost weightlessly above the pool.  Architect Hadid is said to have spent longer working on these diving boards than on any building she’s ever completed.

Hadid has described her intent in terms of its presentational function.  “The design of the diving boards is a continuation of the Aquatic Centre’s fluid architectural language. The dive board arrangement and design seeks to fully exploit the spectacle and drama of ascending the dive boards and diving.”

After the FRP forms were stripped, they were retained and donated to the community.  Plans are under way to use them as playground equipment.

Above photo via pixtale.net. British diving champion Tom Daley visits the London Aquatics Centre during construction, and stands on the diving platform for the first time, in Dec 2010.  One of the FRP molds can be seen in the foreground of the photo.

All other photos via zaha-hadid.com