First IAKS UK Spring Event gathered UK clients, operators and designers

Best practices in legacy


More than 70 clients, operators and designers converged on the IAKS UK Spring Event on 2 April to discuss the development of community sports facilities, using the backdrop of the venues in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In his opening remarks IAKS President Dr Stefan Kannewischer introduced the IAKS Future Trends 2020. Populous Senior Principal and IAKS Executive Board member Tom Jones was the organizer and moderator of the event.

Keynote speaker Charles Johnston (Sport England) explained the involvement and investment of Sport England in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which was restricted to the legacy functions. He laid out the engagement of Sport England to make cities more active by increasing the “walkability” of urban areas. The case study of Orford Jubilee Park in Warrington, a multifunctional leisure / community centre, shows that sports and non-sports activities are combined with significant economic and frequency improvements.


UK Spring Event 2019 London ©Populous 2 (5).jpg

© Populous

UK Spring Event 2019 London ©Populous 2 (10)

© Populous

Edward Fane and Nina Mehmi (London Legacy Development Corporation) led through the exciting history of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from an unattractive industrial area to the Games venue and current legacy use. The transformation from Games to legacy use required both changes in infrastructure and convincing the neighbourhood. There are still many exciting real estate developments ahead until 2030. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games obviously transformed Eastern London into a place of better use.

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority Chief Executive Shaun Dawson introduced his organization that has transformed Lee Valley over 50 years. The 4,000 ha estate goes far beyond the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The organization currently operates three legacy venues: Lee Valley White Water Centre, Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre. He pointed out the challenges in the transformation to legacy operations and the amendments that had to be made to the original legacy concept.

Populous Senior Principal Tom Jones explained the sports venue masterplan of the Olympic Park in London. Only some of the sports venues in the Olympic Park were permanent, the temporary venues being removed after the Olympic Games, and the landscape was turned into a green park after the Olympic Games. Comparing the London masterplan to those of future Olympic Games in Tokyo and Paris, the intentions and approaches vary significantly between Olympic cities.

The delegates visited the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre as well as the Lee Valley VeloPark and then enjoyed lunch at the Timber Lodge which was built post-Olympics as a social meeting point in the park. Next was a visit to the lively Copper Box Arena which was at that moment frequented by pupils playing a handball tournament on three pitches. The group continued to the spectacular London Aquatics Centre where world-class diver Tom Daley performed an open training session. The gallery of the Aquatics Centre with its wonderful view of the pool hall was the perfect spot for the next speeches.

UK Spring Event 2019 London ©Populous 2 (9)

© Populous

UK Spring Event 2019 London ©Populous 2 (13)

© Populous

Ola Mattson (The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities – LOA Denmark) introduced his government foundation which gives grants to innovative projects. This approach is a source of ground-breaking sports and leisure facilities in Denmark, especially sports halls and outdoor areas. This is not only based on financing, but also on the intensive consulting process by the foundation. The “Danish project approach” asks why and what should be achieved with the project and involves potential users from the very beginning (social inclusion).

Danish architect Flemming Overgaard (Keingart Architects) presented exciting projects and how innovation was generated. These projects have always an openness in their functionality to attract as many users as possible, even with different intentions of activity.

Greenwich Leisure Limited Regional Director Tony Wallace introduced his social enterprise which operates 260 facilities across UK, among others the London Aquatics Centre and the Copper Box Arena. He gave interesting insights into the daily operations of these facilities.

Mike Hall and Irina Korneychuk (FaulknerBrowns Architects) rounded up this exciting day with their latest works. The case study of the community sports centre in Newcastle showed how to turn cities into more active places.

In his closing remarks IAKS President Dr Stefan Kannewischer thanked the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Greenwich Leisure Limited for their cooperation and tremendous support in making this event happen.

The seminars and visits to buildings of this event were much appreciated by the delegates, and the networking reception at the end of the day was no exception. IAKS achieved its goal of presenting business-like, know-how exchanging events and creating neutral networking opportunities. The group therefore showed great interest in the upcoming events, such as the IAKS study trip to Hamburg (27 to 28 May) and the IAKS Congress in Cologne (5 to 8 November 2019).

2019 IAKS UK Spring Event - delegates at Aquatic Center