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Riba Stirling Prize 2014: London Aquatics Centre

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Find out more about this year's shortlisted buldings at the BBC Riba Stirling home page: www.bbc.co.uk/stirlingprize

The UK's most prestigious prize for new buildings, the Riba Stirling Prize, will be awarded on 16 October. BBC News Online, in partnership with Riba, is taking a look at each of the contenders for the prize. The London Aquatics Centre was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

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Media captionStaff and visitors give their impressions of the London Aquatics Centre

The centre, with its undulating curves inspired by the smooth flow of moving water, was a showpiece of the London 2012 Olympics. It is now a public swimming pool.

Ahead of the games "wings" were attached to the sides of the building to help accommodate 17,500 spectators. They were removed when the Aquatics Centre reopened as a municipal swimming pool in March 2014 and the extra space was no longer needed. The materials used have been recycled into part of a training centre for teenagers.

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Media captionSee how the building has changed since the London 2012 Olympic Games

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) say it was the "subsequent clipping of the wings that has allowed the building, architecturally speaking, to fly free".

Eight external doors and 628 panes of glass have been installed in place of the wings. Seating capacity is now 2,800, with an additional 200 seats available for major events.

The wave-like roof was built to rest on the building without columns to obstruct spectators' lines of sight. This gives the whole space a feeling of openness.

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Media captionWatch the roof of the London Aquatics Centre being built

The venue accommodates two 50m Olympic-sized pools, a 25m diving pool with boards, a gym, cafe and a creche. The diving boards rise up to 10m from the ground in sculpted smooth concrete into the highest part of the ceiling, before curving down and up again above the swimming pool.

The site was tightly bound by a main railway line to the east and the Waterworks River to the west, with underground power lines running the entire length. It had to be accessed by a new public footpath from Stratford City Bridge.

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Media captionJim Heverin of Zaha Hadid Architects describes the London Aquatics Centre

Up to 800,000 visitors are expected each year - many of whom will be local school children. An off-peak swim session costs £3.50, adult peak times is £4.50.

The starting blocks, touch pads at each end of the former competition pool, and the lane ropes are the ones used during the 2012 Games.


BBC Riba Stirling Prize 2014


Filmed by John Galliver. Production: John Galliver, Susannah Stevens, Sarah Austin, John Lawrence.

Still images by Hufton and Crow Photography, LLDC Images and Getty images

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