Beyond 2012 - an integrated Design Story

Lee Valley White Water Centre
A built environment story

“Creating white water in a flat landscape in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner was a challenge.”

Michael Hall,

Tell us about the early design brief

The brief called for an international standard white-water canoe slalom facility for the London 2012 Games, which would continue as a legacy project after the Games and be used by the local community. Our design concept was inspired by the parkland setting, into which we set a floating pavilion surrounded by the start and finish pools.

What challenges did you face along the way?

Attempting to create white water in a flat landscape in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner – unlike that seen in previous Olympic Games facilities – was a challenge to tackle early on. We achieved this by providing two different courses which delivered long-term flexibility and optimised energy use through fluid dynamic modelling. We also had to change site early on the project due to high levels of contamination in the original site.

How did it feel to be involved in such an important British project?

Our involvement in the project was one of the highlights in the fifty year history of our practice. It engendered a great sense of pride, especially during the Games as we watched Team GB members receiving their medals.

Did you know…

  • Canoeists say that they often have to drink a bottle of coke to avoid stomach upsets when using other venues, but the water quality at Lee Valley White Water Centre is almost good enough to drink!


Company name
FaulknerBrowns Architects

Lee Valley White Water Centre


Project team

Michael Hall

Peter Mouncey

In collaboration with:


Deloitte Real Estate
Project Management and Contract Administration

Whitewater Parks International
Specialist Whitewater Course Designers

Michael van Valkenburgh Associate
Landscape Architecture

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