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A fitting legacy from the 2012 London Olympics

London 2012 Aquatics Centre

866,000 tiles were fixed in the London Aquatics Centre, forming the gateway to the Olympic Park

London 2012 Aquatics Centre

Having completed many prestigious leisure installations, ARDEX were delighted to work in partnership with specialist tiling contractor, W B Simpson Limited, and supply the ideal tile fixing system to assist with the completion of the iconic Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park, London.

The Aquatics Centre was designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid, who worked in conjunction with leading swimming pool architects, S & P. The breath taking 17,500 seat Aquatics Centre forms part of the gateway to the Olympic Park, and is housed beneath a distinctive wave-like curved roof. The centre houses a 50m competition pool, a 50m warm up pool, and a 25m competition diving pool, with a ‘dry’ warm-up area for divers. The project required a proven tiling solution which could help deliver fast track completion, as well as the ability to withstand the challenging environment and rigorous hygiene demands.

As with previous high profile projects, including Heathrow Airport, Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Harrods and London Zoo, it was the proven performance and versatility of ARDEX products that won favour with the contractor. In addition, the ARDEX Business Development and Technical Services teams provided on-going support at every stage of the project, from rapid response to specification writing, to installation visits and on-site testing. ARDEX’s purpose-built training facility enabled them to bring together all parties involved in the specification, from the client through to the main contractor, ensuring total confidence in the specification, and subsequent on-site application.

Once the main construction of the Aquatics Centre had been completed, the different depth ‘falls’ of the pool surround were levelled with an application of ARDEX S 21, a Rapid Drying Floor Tile Bedding Mortar which allowed further work to commence after only 3 hours.

Prior to fixing the pool surround tiles, ARDEX S 7 was applied to provide a waterproof coating, eliminating the risk of leaks, or water damage to the mechanical and electrical equipment under the pool surround.

One of the key influences in ARDEX winning this prestigious project was the fact that ARDEX X 77 MICROTEC Flexible Floor & Wall Tile Adhesive was suitable for fixing all of the tiles in the Aquatic Centre. By using just one tile adhesive, cost savings and application time was saved. ARDEX MICROTEC X 77 has an open time of up to 60 minutes, which means you can spread larger areas of adhesive in a single application, enabling the team at the Aquatic Centre installation to work more efficiently, and allowing more time when tiling awkward areas, or cutting around fixtures and fittings in the pool and pool surrounds.

The tiling installation for the Aquatics Centre was vast, with 866,000 ceramic tiles installed in the pools, poolside and changing rooms, (180,000 lining the pools themselves). The main pool tiles were supplied by Spectile Ltd of Crewe. ARDEX-FLEX FL Rapid Setting Flexible Grout in Dove Grey was chosen to fill the pool tile joints, to complete the installation. ARDEX colour test every batch of tile grout, and the advanced manufacturing process ensures uniform colour distribution of the grout powder which eliminates ‘streaking’ during mixing. In addition to offering a colour palette of 35 colours, ARDEX-FLEX Tile Grouts incorporate flexibility, water and dirt resistance, and ease of application, which combined to ensure the perfect finish for the Aquatics Centre.

In addition to the tiling system installed throughout the pools, the shower areas within the changing rooms were prepared with ARDEX WPC, which provided a rapid drying waterproof protection coat. It was essential to ensure that the tiled background was protected from moisture ingress, which can result in leaks to other areas within the changing rooms, or loss of adhesion between the tiles and substrate. ARDEX WPC is quick and easy to apply, and helped to minimise downtime, as tile fixing can commence after just 90 minutes.

Andrew Reid, ARDEX National Business Development Manager commented, “The Aquatics Centre is an amazing facility, and one that will benefit the local community for years to come. Our tiling systems have been specified in many leisure projects, but to win the contract for the Aquatics Centre has been a great achievement, and a testimony to ARDEX’s ‘gold standard’ product range and support. The feedback from the installation team was extremely positive, and the completed venue is truly stunning.”