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How London laid the groundwork for sustainable sporting architecture

Governments hosting high-profile sporting events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are repeatedly criticized for building massive, unsustainable venues, often abandoned in the years after the big event.
10:24
Thu, Jul 29 20217:00 AM EDT

Governments hosting high-profile sporting events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are repeatedly criticized for building massive, unsustainable venues, often abandoned in the years following the big event.

In 2012, London aimed to change that narrative, praised at the time by climate activists for paving the way for sustainable architecture.

"I think it was desperately sad to look at venues in other Olympic cities that aren't delivering a legacy, that had their week of glory during the Games, but haven't delivered in the long-term," said Shaun Dawson, chief executive of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, a government-appointed body which operates three of the London Olympic venues still in use.

"That public investment hasn't delivered for those communities, and it is an important lesson to learn that you can get it wrong if you don't design these venues correctly."

To ensure that the London 2012 Olympics would not make the same mistake, plans were in place from the start so that the Olympic Park — located in the east of the city — could adapt from a space designed to host thousands of spectators to a park for the local community, and venues that could fulfill a variety of needs.

The focus on the future meant that for every £1 spent building the Olympic Park, a quarter was invested solely for the Games, while the remaining 75 pence was earmarked for its legacy.

Nearly a decade after the event, how are London's Olympic venues being used and repurposed? Watch the video above to learn more.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.