membrane area


large membrane panels

olympic stadium - an icon in membrane architecture

The new stadium for the 2012 Olympic Games in the British capital was designed by the Populous architectural practice, renowned internationally for its sports venue designs, and consulting engineers Buro Happold. Behind the protective external envelope and a steel ring truss there are 25,000 permanent seats, but during the Olympics there was space for 80,000 spectators. The steel truss at the top of the structure forms a compression ring to which the extremely lightweight membrane roof is guyed back.

  • Fabrication and erection of the roof of PVC-coated PES fabric for this project was seele’s responsibility. A delicate arrangement of wire ropes supports the roof. Ten steel cables form the inner tension ring. Spanning between the tension and compression rings are further cables supporting the 112 sections of the roof membrane. They rise gently from the inner ring to a high point where they are fixed to the top chord of the steel truss via a cable. From here, they are guyed back at a steeper angle to the bottom chord. The exceptional safety and quality standards of this project called for very precise prefabrication of the approx. 210sqm sections of roof fabric, no two of which are alike. This is where seele’s experience in the accurate fabrication of engineered fabrics really counts. Following detailed planning of the cutting pattern by seele, backed up by extensive materials testing, the sections of material can form the geometry given by the wire rope structure without creases. Various built-in and roof-mounted elements drain rainwater to specific points and provide perfectly positioned openings for roof access plus the electric cables for the floodlighting towers. Dispatch and delivery was carried out according to a strict logistics plan, which ensured efficient installation on site. The challenge for the erection crews was to attach the membrane sections to wire ropes that were not yet in their final positions – because only through the interaction with the membrane does the roof assume its final shape.

    Project images: 
    © photoshot/picturealliance/picturedesk.com, Jason Hawkes


Client Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA)
Main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine
Architect Populous
Engineer Buro Happold
Date of completion 2010
Scope of seele supply
  • Design, fabrication and installation of 112 PVC-PES membrane panels with dimensions up to 210sqm
  • Total membrane area: 24,000sqm