London 2012: Handball Women’s Preliminary Rounds - 5th August 2012 22:09
The Handball Arena, also known as the Copper Box due to the exterior copper cladding, within the Olympic Park is a very clever building. It is one of four permanent buildings in the park. The two biggest, and most interesting, design elements are the use of retractable seating and sunpipes.
Firstly the size of the building was designed around the maximum legacy “field of play” which allows for multiple handball, basketball, and badminton courts; but additional retractable seating was added to account for the Games time “field of play” which allows for a single handball or goalball court, or multiple fencing courts. The retractable seating could then be retained for special events or concerts where just a single smaller court is required.
Secondly the use of 88 sunpipes, basically mirrored pipes in the ceiling which project even natural light into the venue, means that lighting costs can be reduced by about 40%. These are supplemented by far fewer low energy lighting rigs foe when it is dark outside. Rather surprisingly the building is very acoustically tuned - driven primarily by the Paralympic sport of goalball (which is played with a ball containing bells) but also by the legacy need of hosting concerts.
I personally greatly enjoyed watching the two handball matches, and it was possibly my highlight of the entire games. For anyone who has not watched the sport I would thoroughly recommend it - it’s a lively, exciting, fast-paced, frenetic and very competitive sport. I can only hope that the legacy of the games draws more attention to sports such as this so that we actually have a chance of playing in the Olympics in the future (don’t forget we only got entrance to all sports this time around because we were the home nation).