Wembley Olympic Steps

Location: Wembley, London

MBA’s brief was to design an inclusive, people-moving system to take people from the newly formed piazza at the end of Olympic Way up to the new stadium podium level.

We concluded that the most inclusive way to access the stadium was to allow all users to take the same route and investigated the potential location for an inclinator / funicular system within the development. The inclinator is positioned at the centre of the steps footprint to allow both step and funicular users to rise up in a similar location and at a similar pace.

The inclinator is designed to carry ambulant disabled people and wheelchair users between the piazza and the stadium podium level. It is a fully automated system comprising two independently powered cars.

The inclinator follows the same incline as the steps, rising at an angle of 12 degrees over a 50m length. The floor of the car will be level with the landing platforms at piazza and podium levels. There will be a transparent screen surrounding the tracks to protect users and prevent dirt and rubbish collecting in the tracks. Automatic sliding doors are located on both sides of the screen at the top and bottom of the inclinator. The doors will open simultaneously with the car doors, similar to a lift.

The car is 2.7m wide x 5.5m long with a headroom of 2.5m. This accommodates a capacity of 30 people standing (based on 0.5sqm per person) or 5 wheelchairs with 5 standing companions.

The car design is a very simple yet elegant glass box. With minimal structure, discreetly located, the walls of the pod will be beautifully detailed. The glass walls and partial glass roof provide maximum views up to the stadium and will minimise the impact on the view of the stadium from down Olympic Way. The car carriage will be recessed beneath the car floor, so that the car appears to almost float upwards.

Inside the car, a polished stainless steel handrail will be provided around the perimeter and a cast aluminium bench allows passengers to sit. The ceiling raft and columns will also be polished stainless steel. The lights will be contained within the ceiling raft to give the appearance of a glowing soffit. The cantilevered carriage will be painted steel and will contain M+E plant.

To ensure passenger comfort the internal temperature is controlled by an HVAC unit.

Two alternatives for the Inclinator drive systems were investigated. Both drive systems are viable options:

1. A cable drive system, supplied by POMA, uses similar technology to that of a standard lift car. The cars are powered by a single drive unit that would be located below the inclinator at the mezzanine level above the car park.

2. A Rack and Pinion System, supplied by WGH, does not require a machine room as the drive units are within the cars themselves.

The main difference between the two systems is the System Approval methods.

A single trip including dwell time will take approximately 1 minute. This allows approximately 26 round trips per hour with the potential to move 1594 people per hour in both directions.

The light sabres are circular translucent columns containing light tubes capable of providing coloured or white light. Their presence and colour will enliven and contrast the otherwise hard landscape. From within the space they will form a means of interaction, enclosure and stimulation for those wishing to pause and rest in this area.

There are 18 light sabres in total arranged on alternate gridlines orientated perpendicular to the front face of the steps. The sabres are positioned in 3 groups of 3 and located at the front, middle and back sections of the double steps on both sides of the inclinator. Walking down Olympic Way, from a distance the sabres will be fairly spread out but will move into lines as one moves closer and the perspective is shortened thus presenting a perceived changing display along the route to the stadium.

Each light sabre is 500mm diameter and 4m high. This size is in proportion to the scale of the steps and the users. The light sabres are large enough to be visible from a distance but without overpowering the view of the stadium or blocking the entrance. The sabres are spaced sufficiently to provide some enclosure to the double stepped area as well as allowing views out.