London 2012 Velodrome: The Role of Simulation in the Design Process
The London 2012 velodrome achieved the environmental standards rating ‘BREEAM Excellent’ at the design stage. The article ‘London 2012 Velodrome – integrating advanced simulation into the design process’ by Harries, Brunelli and Rizos, published in Journal of Building Performance Simulation, presents the simulations carried out during the London 2012 velodrome design process. It illustrates how the methodology informed the key design decisions that were made.
According to the authors, success of the velodrome is held in the integration of advanced simulation practices into the design process, they believe success lies in the existence of 3 competences: simulation competence – creation of a simulation fitting the brief; integration competence – assimilation of the simulation into the working architectural design; and holistic design competence – use of architectural design, environmental engineering and service concepts to meet the project KPI’s.
Throughout the concept, design process simulations were used to ensure that the finished velodrome met the KPI’s set, whilst maximising visual, environmental and functional potentials. Environmental design determined the building form to increase aerodynamics, ventilation and reduce volume. Air flow simulations were used to enable the build to use natural air flow ventilation, the bowl shape of the building supplementing this to produce more airflow driving-force. Winter heating feasibility simulations were used to ensure a well-mixed thermal environment with target temperatures maintained throughout. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was used to ensure natural ventilation enabled efficacy in reaching suitable environmental temperatures and on-track air velocity criteria during summer.
Light was a significant factor, as it was crucial to bring in natural light to reduce energy consumption. Lighting simulations helped determine the geometry of the roof as the main provider of natural light into the building. Diffusion glazing was used to avoid hard shadows and distraction for the cyclists. Diffusion glazing has reduced light transmittance capacity, and this resulted in a larger glazed area on the roof in order to maximise luminosity. Combined with aesthetics, insulation issues, buildability and sound structure, the light simulations played a key role in determining building design.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) placed key environmental objectives on the design team as an element of the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) stated in the outline planning permission for the Olympic Park. The ODA aimed to reduce carbon emissions by 50% compared to 2006 good practice, by using renewable energy and maximising energy efficiency. Energy modelling, through a series of compliance calculations, energy use calculations and validation was central to enabling the ODA to meet these targets through efficiency of building and infrastructure.
Harries et al have outlined in this article how an integrated and holistic design approach have utilised complex simulation to achieve a velodrome which surpassed expected targets for sustainability, functionality and aesthetics, all within budget and timescale. Peter King, Executive Director of British Cycling, said “it’s got everything we could have wished for in terms of cycling; but it is also the most iconic venue in the park.”