Going for gold

News /
2 July 2012
Going for gold
The aluminum cladding on the outside of Wembley Stadium.

Shrinking economy, Euro zone in meltdown, unemployment rising… Forecasts for 2012 may look gloomy, but it could also be a year of record-breaking achievements.

Even before it opens on July 27th, the London 2012 Olympic Games is setting standards. It will be the UK’s biggest ever sporting event: a global showcase for athletes at the top of their game -with venues to match. And AkzoNobel has played an important role in supplying products.

Global Strength
Even before the London Olympic torch has been lit, we have moved on to the next Olympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. An AkzoNobel construction team, representing businesses such as Protective and Decorative as well as Powder Coatings, has met with contractors to discuss requirements.“Track record and experience are what count,” says Matthew Osmond, Global Solutions Business Development Manager, citing AkzoNobel’s work both at the Beijing and London Olympics. “Plus our global capability and network. We can talk to an architect in Germany, deal with a fabricator in the Middle East for a building in Brazil. Even better, we have a factory in Sao Paolo, Brazil that can make all the products, and offer local expertise.”

These factors have helped us secure contracts for the 2014 World Cup, also to be held in Brazil. It will involve the refurbishment or construction of some of the 12 football stadiums and our coatings are likely to be seen on cladding, curtain walls, seating and handrails. “These projects are certainly exciting,” says Osmond. “They’re all different; they’re logistically complex; and some refurbishments bring particular challenges. But that’s where AkzoNobel is in a good position. Our strong local presence and unprecedented global capability means we can coordinate multi-country construction projects with ease.”

The world’s eyes will be on the Olympic Park, in Stratford, East London where the games will be held, so every structure from the Athletes’ Village to the 80,000-capacity main stadium, the Aquatics Center to the Handball Arena has to be built to the highest specification. As one of the main powder coatings ‘suppliers, AkzoNobel’s products will shine out on seating sections and handrails, window frames and balconies, curtain walling and interior panelling. “It has been one of AkzoNobel’s major projects of the last two years,” declares Arthur Moseley, UK Marketing Manager.

Gaining the contracts, he says, was almost as hard as gaining a place in an Olympic team. “It was very competitive. We supply both the fabricators – the systems houses who make parts like aluminum extrusions, profiles and window systems - and the coatings’ applicators. They’re both looking for the best coating systems available, i.e. the best combination of performance and cost-effectiveness. That was what we had to prove.”

Powder’s key qualities for this prestigious project, Moseley explains, are its durability, robustness and versatility - “It has to withstand changes in the structures’ future use; for example, the Athletes’ Village will become social housing. Many of the surfaces are aluminum, so the alternatives, such as anodizing, do not offer the same range of finishes and colors that Interpon powder coatings make possible. Powder coating is also more cost effective and has excellent environmental credentials.”

A major factor in our success was the work we did at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where AkzoNobel provided coatings not only for the iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium but also for seven other sporting venues, including the ‘Water Cube’ National Aquatics Center, Canoeing and Rowing Park, and Fencing Hall. Our strong technical knowledge was also critical to winning the London Olympics’ contracts, says Moseley. “This allows us to get involved at the specification stage when architects are questioning the performance of products. We have a good track record of being involved in iconic buildings worldwide so we’ve got the expertise that architects rely on.”

Several of those iconic buildings will figure in the London Olympics in direct or supporting roles. The world-famous Wimbledon Center Court, which will host the Olympics’ tennis competitions, has an equally world-famous retractable roof for which we supplied powder coatings. Many of the famous stadiums which will be used for the football competitions display our work: the aluminum cladding on the outside of Wembley Stadium, for example, and a striking mural of past foot balling heroes at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

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