Getting ready to host an Olympic Games is a massive undertaking for any city. State of the art arenas, both indoor and out, must be constructed. An Olympic Village sufficient to hold teams of athletes from all over the world, must be designed and built. Infrastructure must be checked and reinforced to ensure that the city can accommodate an influx of millions of international visitors.

The focal point of any Olympic city is the stadium that houses the Olympic Torch and hosts the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies. While these stadiums are all anyone can talk about during the games, we almost never discuss what happens to them afterward. Despite months of designing and millions of dollars in construction costs, many of these athletic temples are merely discarded when the Games are over, left to serve as massive reminders of what happens when we fail to consider the full life cycle of our developments.

That won’t be the case for this year’s Summer Olympics in London, however. The new Olympic Stadium was built to be collapsible — but not while anyone is in it, of course. Sports-architecture firm Populous purposefully designed the stadium to be easily disassembled and remade into a more practical structure when the crowds have departed.

The firm, which also designed the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, decided to create the stadium with 25,000 seats that are meant to be permanent and 55,000 that can be easily removed after the Games. The stadium uses a fraction of the steel contained in those from previous years, making it lighter and easier to alter. Fewer concession stands were built into the structure, instead relying on temporary shops outside the stadium. Also, the architects plan to use fabric coverings, rather than permanent materials, to add color and life to the design.

“The Olympic Stadium here is an almost obvious, in-your-face example of a building that doesn’t need to be there forever,” Rod Sheard, senior principal at Populous, told the Wall Street Journal. “Some people say, ‘This isn’t even a real building. It’s not an icon.’ And other people are saying it’s a new kind of icon, a 21st-century icon.”

Main image credit: Populas