Our metal makes the London Olympics last

The recent Diamond League sports meeting in London gave a vibrant reminder of the fascinating Olympics in 2012. Their infrastructure is bound to last, and serve, for decades to come – with a lot of aluminium from Hydro in use.

August 9, 2013

Indeed, no other aluminium company contributed more of its metal to that event. While Hydro´s share in the huge amounts of food packaging for millions of guests and thousands of athletes is long-recycled and re-used, Hydro material continues to catch the eyes at two stunning buildings and is at the front of a multitude of public trains, mobilizing the Olympic community then, and now Londoners.

World-famous architect Zaha Hadid designed the most iconic of the Olympic venues: the London Aquatics Centre. During the games, two side wings had to be fixed to this artwork of architecture, creating space for 17,500 spectators and annoying many aesthetics.

Now 2,500 fan seats are enough, so the odd wings have been removed, and the streamlined, sculpted profile of the venue has been revealed to the architect´s original vision, a stunning, billowing, wave-like roof seemingly suspended over the space below. It will be ready to accept swimmers and bathers from April 2014.

The Aquatics Centre roofing elements, up to 160 meters long, were formed onsite, directly from 40 tons of coils that Hydro´s rolled products plant in Holmestrand, Norway, had delivered. The final aluminium wave form of this roof, looking so light at a weight of 3,200 tons, is now a must-shoot photo for London tourists. "It enjoys most prominent visibility now," says Dave Goddard, Rolled Products´ sales manager in the UK. The roofing specialist Lakesmere and his contractors for building the roof of the Aquatics used even more Hydro material, 70 metric tons of 3005 alloy aluminium, from the Karmøy rolling mill, for the deck structure beneath the roof.

Sustainable "Pringle"

Hydro´s aluminium is also visible on top of the Olympic velodrome. It ranks as one of the most sustainable venues in the Olympic park of London, partly thanks to its lightweight roof, as it weighs roughly half that of any other covered velodrome. Its double-curving, cable-net roof structure was designed by Hopkins Architects to reflect the shape of the cycling track. Yet many take it for a giant potato crisp and nickname it the "Olympic Pringle". There, the roof contractor Prater worked with solutions using 39 metric tons of aluminium, supplied by Hydro´s Holmestrand plant, for the roof clad.

Light trains

As a contribution to the public transport network for the Olympics 2012, Hydro´s rolling mill in Hamburg, Germany, delivered 3mm thick rolled aluminium of the 5083 alloy in a special superforming grade, for 48 new Bombardier VLU class trains.

Furthermore, for the main Underground circuit, Bombardier built around 200 SSL class units, their front using 4 mm thick aluminium shate material, also in a 5083 alloy variant developed specially for superforming , this time produced at Alunorf in Neuss, Germany. Deliveries to these underground trains amount to more than 450 metric tons since 2010.

At one time there was a threat that the manufacture of all these trains would have been lost to the UK. "But through using these new products that have recently been developed specifically for superforming operations by Hydro metallurgists based in Bonn, Grevenbroich and Hamburg, Hydro's customer Superform was able to produce exciting new components for their customer Bombardier who was in turn enabled to win these contracts through streamlined production, in the process safeguarding many valuable British manufacturing jobs," says Hydro manager Goddard. "We have used our partnerships, our technical leadership and our ability to deliver the correct materials on time to ultimately get ourselves specified for all these projects – and this was our own unique contribution to the Olympic achievement."


Updated: October 11, 2016