The O2 Arena

  • Typologies


  • Services

    Architecture, Brand Activation, Wayfinding, Interior Design

  • Completion


CHALLENGE. Formerly the Millennium Dome, the O2 Arena 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 emphasises the scale and volume of the public space.


"The O2 Arena is without a doubt the best venue in the world."

Frank Warren

IMPACT. 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. In 2016, The Populous team revisited the arena, redeveloping the wayfinding identity on Concourse Level 1.

21st annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards, International Arena of the Year
Sign Design Awards
Structural Awards, Award for Arts or Entertainment Structures
Structural Steel Design Award, Steelwork by integrated team working
National Association of Shopfitters, Runner-up for the VIP Bar
RICS Award, Regeneration category
FX magazine award, Technology integration innovation product
Regeneration Awards, Best Commercial-led Project of the Year
Regeneration Awards, Challenging Regeneration Project of the Year
Pollstar Concert Industry Awards, Best New Concert Venue and Best International Arena
Project Team
Connect with the designers

Nicholas Reynolds

Garry Reeves

Simon Borg