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10 Things You Didn't Know About London's Olympic Venues (PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/27/2012 7:00 am

Kudos to the brains behind London's 2012 Olympic venues: Because the city won't need all the structures once the games end, many are temporary (and recyclable!).

Of course, London has a long history, and some of the sporting grounds have been around for centuries.

Here, we look at the oldest and the newest Olympic venues in town...

--Marisa LaScala, Condé Nast Traveler

This article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler: 15 Things You Didn't Know About London's Olympic Venues

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  • OLYMPIC STADIUM

    <strong>Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, Athletics</strong> Builders have prided themselves on the lack of waste used in making the games' signature arena. It was partially built using surplus gas pipes, and soil excavated from the site was sanitized and reused elsewhere on the grounds. The venue is on the shortlist for the Stirling Prize, an award for the best British architecture given by the Royal Institute of British Architects. This is in sharp contrast to London's last big arena project, the Millennium Dome -- now the O2 arena -- which was roundly criticized when it was built. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • VELODROM

    <strong> Cycling </strong> The action might be going on around the track, but the roof of this venue deserves some attention. Its surface is made from steel cables strung like a tennis racket, which allows for better ventilation and lighting, plus uses fewer construction materials. The roof also collects rainwater recycled throughout the building. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • AQUATICS CENTRE

    <strong> Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming, Modern Pentathlon </strong> Beijing's "Water Cube" was impressive, but London's swimming arena is not to be outdone -- it has an undulating roof that looks as light as a water droplet but weighs about 3,000 tons. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • RIVERBANK ARENA

    <strong> Field Hockey</strong> The neon pink of the arena’s pitch may look blinding to the eye, but it’s actually easier to see the yellow ball against it. This is the first time that a color other than green has been used for the field. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • WATER POLO ARENA

    <strong> Water Polo</strong> Like the Aquatics Centre, the roof of the Water Polo Arena is its most distinguishing characteristic -- and that's where the similarities end. This arena's roof is inflatable and only semi-permanent, wrapped in a silver membrane and insulated with PVC padding. When the Olympics are over, it can be taken down, and parts of it can either be recycled or reassembled in a different location. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • COPPER BOX

    <strong> Handball, Modern Pentathlon</strong> “Copper Box” is an apt description for this 7,000-seat venue: The building’s exterior features more than 32,000 square feet of (mostly recycled) copper covering. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • BMX TRACK

    <strong> BMX Cycling</strong> BMX biking, which was introduced four years ago in Beijing, is one of the newest sports in the Olympics. London created its BMX track from soil that was excavated to build the other arenas in the Olympic Park. After the games, the course will be adjusted to accommodate riders of all skill levels -- though the toughest obstacles will remain -- and will be open for public use. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • BASKETBALL ARENA

    <strong> Basketball, Handball</strong> Though the Basketball Arena can seat 12,000 spectators, making it one of the largest and most-used in the games, the venue itself is entirely temporary. The steel frame is covered with a PVC fabric, and the whole thing will be entirely dismantled when the Olympics are over. New houses will be built in the space. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • HAMPTON COURT PALACE

    <strong>Road Cycling</strong> Built in: 1514 The Hampton Court Palace has long had a place in sports history. It’s home to the country’s oldest surviving tennis court, which was built in 1528 for a very special athlete: Henry VIII. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>

  • HYDE PARK

    <strong>Swimming, Triathlon</strong> Open to the public since: 1637 Hyde Park was originally used as a private hunting ground for Henry VIII in 1536, and it wasn't until more than a century later that Charles I opened it up to the public. The Serpentine Lake, where the Olympic swimming events will take place, was built under the orders of Queen Caroline in the 1730s. Casual bathers still swim in the lake every summer, and the Serpentine Swimming Club hosts an infamous race there every Christmas. <em>Photo: Courtesy London 2012</em>


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