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All hail the Paralympic switch

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If you have read Project over the past few months, you will be well aware of the success of the Olympic construction programme. You may also have noticed that I am keen to shout about this success and share the lessons learned with the industry wherever possible.

Those who may have grown tired of Olympic talk can read on, assured that we will not speak of the Olympic Games in this blog just the Paralympic Games.

Lets remember that the performance of the British athletes at the Olympic Games was matched by many the ladies and gentlemen who worked tirelessly to deliver the projects required to stage them.

Now the focus has switched, and as the country gets ready to back a host of new heroes, practitioners are busy preparing the venues for Paralympic Games which begin on Wednesday 29 August.

LOCOG said this week that the venues were created with both sets of Games in mind but there were some modifications needed. Smaller projects include refreshing signage and ensuring the flags of the competing nations are in place, with larger tasks seeing changes to venues and fields of play.

The finishing touches are being applied to two new competition venues at Eton Manor and Brands Hatch in preparation for the Games. Based north of the Park, Eton Manor will be used for wheelchair tennis competition, while Brands Hatch, Kent, will be used for the Paralympic road race.

At the forefront of the switchover is engineering and design consultancy Atkins, which is converting the Olympic hockey warm-up pitch to host a five-a-side football pitch for the Paralympics. Engineers are also installing seating stands to host up to 5,000 spectators.

Other Paralympic preparations around the capital include:

  • Wider corridors, aisles and entrances to venues to make it easier for people with mobility scooters and wheelchairs to access the Park
  • Light gradients to allow spectators to get around easily
  • Use of specialist computer modelling to ensure that disabled spectators have good sightlines and can see all the action
  • More than 250 benches with 3,300 seats across the Olympic Park, a maximum of 50m apart
  • Tactile surfaces and contrasting colours to help spectators with visual impairments navigate the Olympic ParkYet further examples of the detailed planning that has gone into ensuring the project is one of the greatest successes ever seen on our shores. 


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