Not only did the underfloor heating system for the Velodrome for the London Olympics provide effective and efficient heating, but it also provided an environment that would help break world and Olympic records. Mark Dowdeswell from Uponor and James Griffiths from Velta take up the story.
In a major part of the redesign of the capital ahead of the London Olympic Games, Uponor and its specialist indoor climate division, Velta, was responsible for designing the plumbing and climate-control system of the Velodrome — one of the few buildings which remain as a lasting legacy of sporting excellence.
To meet the requirements of Sir Chris Hoy and the Association of Sports & Leisure Facilities, Velta and Uponor needed to provide optimum conditions for Team GB and cyclists from across the globe to set new records. This meant ensuring pinpoint levels of accuracy through carefully selected heating systems and precisely controlled air temperatures.
The Velodrome’s flooring technology requirements were relatively straightforward. The application of an embedded underfloor heating system was seen as key, as its natural flexibility allows for easy installation and superior performance in almost any domestic or commercial environment.
The Velta-designed underfloor heating system offered the ideal solution in terms of climate control, using a radiant system of heat to maintain optimal climate conditions in each section of the stadium.
Within the Velodrome, the internal space required a temperature of 19 to 21°C across the ‘in-field’ arena to take into account the higher core body temperature of the cyclist. The area is in the region of 12 to 15 m in size. However, the ‘occupied zone’, the cycling track, is just 2 m wide and was the area which required highly accurate heating levels to aid optimal performance of the cyclists.
The radiant nature of underfloor heating meant Uponor and Velta were able to factor in the expected radiant heat from the athletes and keep air resistance to a minimum.
The formatting of the sports flooring was dictated by the International Association of Sports & Leisure Facilities, based on environmental and science studies and informed by Sir Chris Hoy. Working closely with them and the design teams, a Uponor pipe system was installed in the floor to meet these requirements. With the exception of concrete, all of the products installed at the Velodrome were from Uponor.
All the distribution mains from primary plant equipment were comprised of Uponor’s multi-layer composite pipe (MLCP), press fittings and modular fittings covering cold water service (CWS), hot water service (HWS) and low-temperature hot water (LTHW).
With all of the benefits of copper and none of the disadvantages, MLCP enabled a quick installation without compromising on quality, allowing the build and the construction to be completed on time. Water-tight, and with dimensions of up to 4 in, the MLCP system enabled the use of a wide range of pipe sizes to suit each area of the build. The modular fittings allowed for fast and safe installation of the larger-diameter pipes with minimal numbers of components stored on site. MLCP is also form stable, allowing the smallest possible bend radius, a reduced number of connections and, as a result, reduced liability. Crucially, this allowed it to be bent into shape according to the build requirements, making it flexible enough for the race track. Overall, more than 16 000 metres of Uponor pipework was installed.
The key challenge was in-project managing the construction of the climate heating system.
To ensure that the construction elements would run smoothly when it came to the project build, the first three years involved continuous in-depth planning. It was absolutely vital that all parties involved were clear on how each aspect of the project would need to run once construction began. This included everything from determining the construction of the flooring area and ensuring precise placement of pipes and joints to factoring in the drying time of a section of the floor resin before moving to the next area of track.
Multiple contractors worked on site to competing deadlines. However, by working closely with the building designers and subcontractors, Velta ensured that each element of the installation ran smoothly and that the highest standards of quality were assured.