Lee Valley White Water Centre

Lee Valley White Water Centre provides opportunities for both elite athletes and the wider community to reach their individual potential as part of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The centre was the first purpose-built venue to be completed for the games, operating as a community resource in the lead up to - and following - the event.

The centre contains a 300m Olympic canoe slalom course, a 160m intermediate course and a pavilion which includes a café with viewing terrace and function room. The timber pavilion appears to float in the landscape and has proved popular as a visitor destination in its own right. The vibrant social space offers an excellent vantage point to look north towards the open Lee Valley Park or south over the course itself.

Summary:
Olympic White Water Centre

Location:
Hertfordshire, England

Size:
1,800m²

Budget:
£20,000,000

Client:
Olympic Delivery Authority

Construction:
April 2009 – October 2010

Opening:
December 2010

Our athletes are benefitting enormously from the wonderful facilities at Lee Valley, which are the best in the world.

John Anderson MBE
Performance Director, British Canoeing

Designing for legacy

The design brief evolved from an international benchmarking study that was undertaken to develop an understanding of the key factors which underpin a successful and sustainable white water competition venue.

This lead to the decision to incorporate both an Olympic standard 300m course and a separate 160m intermediate course. During competitions the smaller section is used as a warm up area for competitors, whilst in legacy mode this becomes a training course for beginners to learn in safety.

Lee Valley White Water Centre Hertfordshire London 2012 Olympic Games L
Lee Valley White Water Centre Hertfordshire Site Plan Sp

The layout of the two courses, pavilion and circulation routes allow plenty of space for the overlay of temporary facilities for major events, including spectator seating and security infrastructure. As a result Lee Valley was described as one of the most organised and spectator friendly venues of the 2012 Games.

Following on from the Olympics, the elegant but highly functional pavilion has played a large part in ensuring the long term commercial viability of the centre in legacy mode. The upper floor café and seating terrace is a pleasant space for friends, family and curious by-passers to watch the exhilarating white water activities. As well as generating additional revenue, this helps to increase exposure to the sport and promote wider participation.

Opportunities to develop

It’s an amazing facility, and I would say it’s the best used and the highest legacy value from any of the London 2012 facilities. …What we have here on a daily basis is Olympic medallists, senior squad and Olympic development athletes training on the Olympic channel. Then, alongside them we have ‘rapid talent’ youngsters on the legacy course. … It is just fantastic to see them all on the water, all integrated.

John Anderson MBE
Performance Director, British Canoeing

Awards

  • RIBA Awards
    East Regional Spirit of Ingenuity 2012
  • IOC/IAKS Awards
    Bronze Award 2013
  • IPC/IAKS Awards
    Distinction for Accessibility 2013
  • RICS East of England Awards
    Highly Commended in Community Benefit Category 2012
  • Hertfordshire Building Futures Awards
    Special Award in Design Excellence 2011