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London 2012 Basketball Arena by Sinclair Knight Merz

The latest completed venue for the London 2012 Olympics is the Basketball Arena, a PVC tent designed by Sinclair Knight Merz with Wilkinson Eyre and KSS.


Top: photograph is by Anthony Palmer / Getty
Above: photograph by Anthony Charlton / Getty

A patterned surface is created on the exterior where the skin stretches over arched frames.


Above: photograph by Anthony Charlton / Getty

The arena will host handball and basketball during the Olympics next year, and wheelchair rugby and basketball for the Paralympics.


Two thirds of the structure will be reusable after the games are over, when the building will be completely dismantled.


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Photography is by Dave Tully / Getty, apart from where otherwise stated.

The following information is from the Olympic Delivery Authority:

Basketball Arena becomes fourth Olympic Park venue completed

The London 2012 Basketball Arena has become the fourth Olympic Park venue completed, more than a year ahead of the Games and is one of the quickest venues to finish construction, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) announced today.


The Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary venues ever used for an Olympic and Paralympic Games and will be dismantled after the Games to be reused elsewhere. Initial works on site began in October 2009, with work to erect the 1,000-tonne steel frame starting in March 2010. The venue has now been completed on budget, making it one of the quickest Olympic Park venues to finish construction.


With the ODA’s construction works completed, the venue will now be handed over to the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) to carry out overlay works to get the venue ready for the first Olympic Park test event in August - the venue will host the London International Basketball Invitational to be held from the 16th-21st August which will see six top men’s teams from around the world come to London to compete (Great Britain, Australia, China, Croatia, France and Serbia).


During the 2012 Games, Basketball preliminary matches and Women’s quarter finals will be staged at the Arena, in addition to the Handball men’s quarter finals, all semi finals and medal matches. It will also host Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby during the Paralympic Games.


ODA Chief Executive Dennis Hone said: 'Completing construction on the Basketball Arena delivers another striking Games-time venue for the Olympic Park and an innovative structure that can be re-used elsewhere after 2012. As the fourth Olympic Park venue completed and one of the quickest to finish construction, the Basketball Arena is another milestone for the Olympic Park ‘Big Build’ and a tribute to the companies from across the UK involved in its delivery.'


Above: photograph is by Anthony Palmer / Getty

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, said: 'Basketball is one of the most atmospheric competitions of the Games and this has been captured by the artistic design of the Arena. The speed with which this venue has been constructed is a tribute to the ODA and the architect whose design means this facility can be re-used after the Games.'

London 2012 Organising Committee Chair Seb Coe said: 'Basketball is one of the most popular Olympic sports and spectators will be able to see the game played out in spectacular surroundings. It is a superb venue which will be the centre of some of the best team action during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.'

Venue factfile:

Venue design and facilities and design:

  • 12,000 seats - black and orange seating designed to represent the colours of a basketball
  • Venue is 35 metres high (as high as the Tate Modern) and longer than a football pitch at 115 metres long
  • 1,000-tonne steel frame wrapped in 20,000sqm of recyclable white PVC membrane, stretched over three different variations of arched panels.
  • During the Games the exterior will act as a canvas for an artistic and innovative lighting design.
  • Venue facilities including lifts, toilet blocks, corridors and VIP access rooms installed beneath venue seating frame
  • After the Games the venue will be dismantled by the contractors which built and own the temporary elements, with the option of potentially using elements of the arena at other UK and overseas events.


The Basketball Arena design team was lead by Sinclair Knight Merz together with Wilkinson Eyre and KSS

The venue was constructed by companies from across the UK, including:

  • Scotland: Barr Construction in Glasgow built the structure.
  • West Midlands: Slick Seating in Redditch is providing the temporary seating.
  • South West: Base from Bristol provided the membrane cladding for the outside of the Arena and Mitie from Bristol carried out mechanical and electrical works.
  • South East: Envirowrap from Tenterden in Kent is providing the wrapping for the seats; Sevenoaks-based Volker Fitzpatrick is erecting the steelwork, building the toilet blocks and internal fit-out, including lifts.
  • Northern Ireland: McAvoy from Dungannon is building the temporary accommodation.
  • Yorkshire: Fullflow Group Ltd in Sheffield is a sub-contractor to Barr Construction and will be installing the syphonic drainage.


Sports to be staged at the Basketball Arena include:

  • Basketball: The Olympic Basketball competition will have 288 athletes competing for two gold medals - 144 men and 144 women, and 12 teams of 12 players in each competition.
  • Handball: Two teams of seven players pass and dribble a small synthetic or leather ball using only their hands. The aim is to score a goal by throwing the ball past the defending goalkeeper. The team with the most goals wins.
  • Wheelchair Basketball: As in Basketball, played by two teams of five players on the court. It is similar to the Olympic game, with same size court, basket height and near-identical rules.
  • Wheelchair Rugby: Played indoors on a regulation size basketball court using a white ball identical in size and shape to a volleyball. Teams have four players on the court and the object of the game is to carry the ball across the opposition’s goal line.