CHALLENGE. Formerly the Millennium Dome, the O2 is one of the world’s most individual contemporary structures. When Populous was challenged by client AEG to construct an arena within its confines, the analogy of building a ship within a bottle – albeit at the largest scale imaginable – came to mind. On top of this, the acoustics within the finished arena had to be world class, in order to attract the calibre of artists that the sponsor was looking for. And, perhaps most challenging of all, we had to change the public’s perception of the Dome – once seen as London’s biggest white elephant, our brand activation team had to turn it blue.
INNOVATION. Logistically, the arena’s roof had to sit tightly beneath the dome liner fabric, with a minimum 4 metre separation for air and smoke reservoir provisions. An innovative structural methodology meant the building cores and roof system could be erected without tower cranes. The arena’s design responds to its unique context, with public concourses wrapped around the event space and seating bowl. Dramatic lighting emphasise the scale and volume of the public space.
IMPACT. Voted Best International Arena of the year at the Pollstar Concert Industry awards every year since it opened, the O2 is the biggest ticket-selling arena in the world, out-selling its nearest rival by over 50%. The arena hosts the most significant events in the world, such as the ATP tennis finals, as well as the highest profile concerts. On top of this, as the largest entertainment zone in London, the O2 has been a catalyst for the redevelopment of the Greenwich peninsula, prompting valuable additions to the area’s infrastructure such as the new river-boat service. “The O2 Arena is without a doubt the best venue in the world,” says promoter Frank Warren.