Dow Chemical Company is to produce a hi-tech fabric wrap for the Olympic Stadium, it has been announced.
The company, an Olympic sponsor, is funding the wrap which was controversially scrapped to save £7 million after the Government’s October spending review. Savings of £20 million had been called for.
The fabric wrap will have 336 individual panels, each of which will be about 25 metres high and 2.5 metres wide. It will be made of lightweight polyester fabric with a low-density polyethylene coating – requiring fewer raw materials to manufacture. It will also be up to 35 per cent lighter and have a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional materials. Installation is set to begin in spring 2012.
Other sustainable elements of the wrap include UV-curable inks replacing conventional inks to cut emissions during the printing process. It will also include recycled post-industrial materials while the hardware used to hang the wrap will be recycled in Europe after the Games.
The wrap was designed to provide an eye-catching and colourful curtain around the steel girders, breeze blocks and seating of the £486 million Olympic Stadium.
The Dow Chemical Company is a Worldwide Olympic Partner and the official chemistry company of the Olympic Movement.
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said the wrap would be used in a “sustainable way” adding: “The stadium will look spectacular at Games time and having the wrap is the icing on the cake.”
London 2012 said it received “significant interest” from the private sector to supply the wrap, triggering a formal tender announcement in February.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said he was “delighted” the private sector had stepped in as savings were being sought from the £9 billion Olympic project. “At the comprehensive spending review last autumn, the Government could see the benefit of the wrap but did not feel the taxpayer should pay for it as we looked to make savings across the project,” he said.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines do not allow branding in venues, so the wrap will not display sponsor logos during the Games but reinstating it is a high-profile deal.
More than four billion people worldwide are set to see the 80,000-seat venue when they tune in for the opening and closing ceremonies plus the athletics competitions.
Keith Wiggins, Dow UK’s managing director, said the company’s focus on innovation and scientific excellence would be behind “every stitch” of the wrap.
The wrap design was launched in November 2007 at a packed event on the 100 metres straight at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. Organisers billed it as one of the iconic global images of the Games.
The wrap would come complete with graphic colours, mosaics, projected animations and Olympic-related images that could change. It could also offer some shelter to spectators if it rained. They promised a variety of options from projecting the flags of competing nations or the pictograms used to represent each sport.
In light of this, the axeing immediately sparked criticism that it would leave the key venue looking unfinished while stadium architect Rod Sheard warned the wrap was an “integral part” of the stadium.
Talks had even begun with a firm which could turn the fabric into bags which could be sold after the Games, organisers said at the original stadium launch.
George Hamilton, vice president of Dow Olympic Operations, pledged that a sustainable post-Games use for the wrap would be found and investigations about different options have started. No decisions have been announced.
“Our goal is to provide solutions that help make the Olympic Games more sustainable, safer and that will help improve performance. We’re providing this wrap as a sustainable solution for the Games and we look forward to celebrating its completion with Olympic fans around the world,” he said.
Sheard said he was pleased the wrap was finally going ahead as “it will provide a clear and memorable identity to the stadium”. “The wrap completes the enclosure of the structure and gives form to the lightweight frame that supports the elegant white roof.”