every postwar olympic stadium

With the possible exception of the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, Beijing’s “Birds Nest” stadium, designed by fashionable Swiss architects, Herzog & de Meuron, promises to be the clear winner, architecturally. Here is a list of all 16 post-war Olympic Stadia. Vote for your faves.


Posted by David Galbraith

 
Now demolished and replaced by Norman Foster’s good, but not great, single arch stadium that is not unlike the Athens Olympic Stadium. The original Wembley stadium was called the Empire Stadium, having been built for the British Empire Exhibition in the 20s. The style was imperial with Art Decoish towers, reminiscent of the quintessential piece of British Empire architecture: Lutyen’s Viceroy palace in New Delhi. As with the Tokyo Olympics, the stadium was not the real architectural star, and like the Munich Olympics, the real star was an engineer - Owen Williams, the engineer for the stadium but both engineer and architect on the superlative, Empire Pool, later called Wembley Arena.
Although it doesn’t look like much from a distance, now, this early picture of it, without the accumulation of dross surrounding it shows that the Helsinki stadium wasn’t bad at all. The asymmetry and modernist tower are part of he modernist Finnish tradition associated with Alvar Aalto and the hanging shard wall could just as well have been designed by Rem Koolhaas, today. The stadium has justifiably been preserved and has undergone a major renovation, recently.
Despite modern Melbourne’s winning attempts at architecture, Melbourne didn’t have the resources to build a grand new stadium for the Olympics in 1956. Instead, the nondescript Melbourne Cricket Ground was used.
This is a simple and solid piece of background architecture. How can you compete in a city that houses the Coliseum.
Its unfair to judge Tokyo Olympic architecture, based upon its competent but un-noteworthy stadium, since the architecture was elsewhere, such as Kenzo Tange’s signature Olympic Arena.
I personally find the Mexico Olympics stadium fascinating and innovative, not so much as a piece of architecture but as a piece of landscaping, it reminds me of Foreign Office Architects Yokohama International Port Terminal, a project which has become seminal yet post dates it by more than 30 years. Somewhere along the lines, stadiums became the domain of buildings and all about fancy roof structures, which is possibly more to do with selling to clients, ideas based upon small models that we look down on, rather than anything more profound.
Sadly, the games themselves were marred by the massacre of Israeli athletes, for which the Munich Olympics will be remembered. In design terms, the Munich Olympics was the hands down winner, from the magnificent and original organic shaped stadium tent structure, engineered by Frei Otto (the architect was Behnisch), all the way down to the stylistic graphics by Ottl Aicher.
While many Olympic Stadiums are boring, the Montreal one isn’t, its just bad. A hugely expensive reinforced concrete space ship with a massive, over-engineered, phallus that is designed to hold a delicate retractable roof that never really worked.
The Moscow and LA Olympics were sequential, the cold war twins. They represent the infantile ideological posturing that continues to plague the Olympics (for example, the large doors of the Moscow stadium were held open to aid Russian Javelin competitors). Both took place in appropriately neo-fascist, sterile interpretations of classical architecture, about which there is almost nothing to say.
Apart from the razzamatazz of the closing ceremony, complete with a real jet pack, the LA Olympic stadium, with its surrounding Palm Trees that were cynically designed to be removed afterwards, is a mediocre, neo-classical building worthy of the Nazi Games rather than capitalist ones.
This aerial view is the most flattering of viewpoints of the solid Seoul stadium, but its a view that none of its visitors will see, only those that commissioned it from looking at a model.
Despite the old-fashionedness of the 20’s Baroque Olympic complex which was originally built for an Expo, the Barcelona had a distincly modern flavor, this was nothing to do with the overall architecture, but the smaller individual modern elements dropped in. Rather like Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, which was an exhibit in the same Baroque complex, when it was built.
Although the Atlanta Stadium looks like a refit of an existing stadium, rather like Melbourne’s it was actually purpose built and later refit to house the Atlanta Braves. It vies with Melbourne for the title of least inspiring Olympic Stadium.
Although originally built in the 80’s the Athens Stadium was completely renovated for the Olympics, complete with a roof structure by Santiago Calatrava. Although Calatrava has become fashionable as an engineer architect, unlike the Frei Otto’s Munich stadium, where an engineering idea dictates a beautifully original form and interesting space, one can’t help but feel that Calatrava uses structural gymnastics to engineer a shape dictated by taste that is all about structure and forgets about the space within. I find it willful, nowhere more so than the impressive but unoriginal Athens stadium. Many people like it, however.
The Sydney stadium was the biggest ever built for the Olympics, seating 110,000, but its not a great work of architecture.
The 2008 Olympics will no doubt be the subject of many hand wringing articles Western newspapers as people gaze on Beijings spanking new super modern stadia, railways and airport. Of these, new marvels, the Beijing Olympic stadium, designed by trendy Swiss Architects, Herzog & de Meuron is the most original and interesting. The style may be imitated and may date, but of the stadium as ‘object’ style (as compared with Mexico’s landscaped form or Munich’s organic, pavilion style, this is the best yet. London should look at a re-design of their proposal, because it pales in comparison.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More lists...

10 abandoned subway stations | 10 anti-masturbation devices | 10 antique phonographs | 10 best power strip designs | 10 classic jacob jensen gadgets | 10 classic reel-to-reel recorders | 10 console light guns | 10 dry land submarines | 10 enormous floating cranes | 10 failed automobile manufacturers | 10 flea circus contraptions | 10 gas guzzlers | 10 james dyson inventions | 10 luxury trains | 10 massive steam hammers | 10 money making machines | 10 mud huts yurts tents and an igloo with satellite | 10 neat camera hacks | 10 notable olympic flame cauldron designs | 10 obsolete web browsers | 10 rocket launch pads | 10 ski jumps | 10 strange snow vehicles | 10 transparent watches | 10 unboring ferris wheels | 10 unoperational operating theaters | 10 videos of ejection seat tests | 10 voting machines | 12 abandoned hospitals | 12 absurd olympic events | 12 advertainment video games | 12 alternative versions of famous monuments | 12 architects with architects glasses | 12 awful GUIs | 12 banned music videos | 12 batman vehicles | 12 bizarre military parade uniforms | 12 box guitars | 12 buildings inspired by the Farnsworth house | 12 cargo holds | 12 centrifuge gforce test videos | 12 classic pocket knives | 12 Classic Raymond Loewy Designs | 12 classic sony designs | 12 claustrophobic space capsules | 12 claustrophobic torpedo rooms | 12 clay car mockups | 12 concealed guns | 12 countries 12 condom commercials (videos) | 12 Creative Uses of a GoPro | 12 deceptive comic book ads | 12 dental training heads | 12 different food rations | 12 disposable gadgets | 12 diving suits | 12 DIY bicycles | 12 dramatic views looking down | 12 dry land swimming machines | 12 earliest models of gadgets | 12 ejector seats | 12 elegantly deconstructed machines | 12 enormous propellers | 12 examples of decayed Olympic sites | 12 examples of leaked gadgets | 12 examples of money | 12 examples of photo finish photography | 12 extreme examples of medical scaffolding | 12 failed apple products | 12 failed gaming consoles | 12 famous daredevils | 12 fetishy head frames | 12 floating airports | 12 floating staircases | 12 football helmet designs | 12 great modern fountains | 12 haptic interfaces | 12 hazmat suits | 12 health lies cigarette ads | 12 hyperbaric chambers | 12 images of hanging over the edge of skyscrapers | 12 inhabited bridges | 12 insane highways | 12 iron lungs | 12 Knife Bikes | 12 light therapy devices | 12 luxury airlines | 12 Magic Lanterns | 12 Mars Mission Failures | 12 mesmerising magicians posters | 12 mesmerizing kinetic sculptures (videos) | 12 mobile bridges | 12 movie industry camera cars | 12 moving building facades (videos) | 12 moving image machines | 12 Nasa Blueprints | 12 Norman Bel Geddes creations | 12 North Korean Propaganda Posters | 12 nuclear toys | 12 object covered cars | 12 of the worlds most fascinating tunnel networks | 12 pairs of dueling pistols | 12 periscope rifles | 12 pink tanks | 12 pleasure piers | 12 Pocket Sundials | 12 portable record players | 12 prefab ships | 12 primitive b movie style robots | 12 real escape pods | 12 real life cutaway cars | 12 real life glove boxes | 12 real life jenga buildings | 12 Retro Flight Simulators | 12 Retro kitchens of the future | 12 robotic car parks | 12 rockin guitar hero mods | 12 rooms in a box | 12 Safety Coffins | 12 satellites on the ground | 12 seized weapons caches | 12 sexist vintage ads | 12 ships with impossibly large cargo | 12 smoke hoods | 12 Soviet Block Computers | 12 space inflatables | 12 Space Rocket Launch Videos | 12 spectacular erections | 12 steampunk stirling engines (videos) | 12 strange tanks and armored vehicles | 12 times times square over time | 12 tiny Indian school buses | 12 tourbillon watches | 12 Types of Crash Test Dummy | 12 ultra complex surface analysis systems | 12 unbelievably filthy apartments | 12 unrecognizable before and after views of cities | 12 unusual cameras | 12 upside down houses | 12 US Presidential birthplaces | 12 very disturbing paintball teams | 12 vicious vintage dental tools | 12 videos of ships being launched | 12 videos of spiderman climbing real skyscrapers | 12 videos of welding machines | 12 vintage printing presses | 12 vintage walkmans | 12 wild west ghost towns | 12 wonderful water slides | 12 worst iPhone case designs | 12 Yves Behar Designs | 13 disgusting pepsi flavors | 14 cameras that look just like guns | 14 other examples of book burning | 15 abandoned theaters | 15 aircraft with lots of wings | 15 architects 15 chairs | 15 Blade Runner Buildings | 15 dieter rams classics | 15 Dr Kellogg Contraptions | 15 Founding Father Invention Myths | 15 giant transporters | 15 high speed trains | 15 housing projects from hell | 15 human cocoons | 15 images of not so secret secret service buildings | 15 knockoff gadgets | 15 monstrous harvesters | 15 odd pods | 15 of the worst american foods | 15 Papua New Guinean superhero war shields | 15 payphones from around the world | 15 physicists in front of their blackboards | 15 pneumatic message networks | 15 radical beach buggies | 15 scifi movies 15 famous architectural locations | 15 skyscrapers on hold | 15 Solar Cookers | 15 spectacular eye testing gadgets | 15 splendid sidecars | 15 video projections on buildings | 15 videos of amazing rolling ball machines | 15 Videos of Sausage Making Machines | 15 vintage prosthetic limbs | 15 wall climbing robots | 15 witty pieces of text graffiti | 16 bat houses and bat caves | 16 concept watches | 16 Genuine Cyborg Technologies | 16 giant bucket excavators | 16 hilariously unimpressive computer ads | 16 impressive examples of bamboo scaffolding | 16 thanksgiving turkey fryer videos | 17 architectural light sculptures | 17 found object chandeliers | 18 brutalist buildings | 18 hovercraft designs | 18 radio telescopes | 18 really tiny projectors | 18 Spiral Ramps | 20 cipher devices | 20 classic 8mm movie cameras | 20 interesting boring machines | 20 railroad snowplows | 20 unusual tractor designs | 2007 countdown clocks | 3 forth bridge demos | 3d printed products | 8 Classic Nakamichi Cassette Decks | 8 extreme truck load videos | 8 inflatable military decoys | 8 inflatable shelters | 8 moving houses videos | 8 pointless uses of carbon fiber | 8 Sky Hooks | 8 super skinny buildings | 9 bathing machines | 9 depressing views of famous monuments | 9 diabolical teamaking contraptions | 9 diving bells | 9 early remote controls | 9 ghost towns of the recession | 9 good for you ads | 9 mine diagrams | 9 nail houses | 9 non submarine periscopes | 9 permanent temporary structures | 9 real wireframe models | 9 reasons why the highline sucks | 9 retro bomb shelters | 9 Roger Tallon Designs | 9 ronco gadgets | 9 screw drivers | 9 secure phones | 9 Strange Edison Inventions | 9 utopian architectural projects | 9 Vintage Monorails | 9 vintage x ray machines | a dozen vintage spy radios | a visual history of video recorders | abandoned pools | abandoned space technology | abandoned technology | absurd armored trains | accidental masterpieces cooling towers | Aesthetic Prosthetics | aircraft factories | Alexander Graham Bell Tetrahedrals | algorithmic architecture | all 10 wienermobiles through history | all time worst apple products | amazing analog computers | amazing atomic clocks | american monuments under construction | anechoic chamber architecture | anniversary edition products | antarchitecture | Antique Surveying Instruments | apple II commercials (videos) | Apple monocoque or not | arab drifts (videos) | arabian mega skyscrapers | armor for animals | armored face masks | bad design gull wing cars | bank vaults | beautiful lighthouse lights | beautiful wind turbines | best apple concept mockups | best concept cellphones | best concept laptops | best gadgets at ceatec 2007 | best halloweenerd costumes | Best Hess Truck Ever | best interactive clothes | Best iPod Speakers | best keyboards | best lego stop motion videos | best lighting designs | best of ebay oobjects jan 25 08 | best of oobject jan 09 | best pet poop gadgets | best remote controlled gadgets | best Rube Goldberg Machine videos | best steve jobs speech ever (videos) | best time machines | best travel gadgets | big fun alarm clocks | biggest apple design ripoffs | biggest gimmick bottle openers | biggest tech product failures | bizarre drawing contraption videos | bizarre pedal powered things | black rat bikes | blatant ipod iphoneys | boombox bikes | brick sized cellphone ads (videos) | bubble cars | buildings in converted silos | buildings in old planes | bus stops as architecture | bus stops as art | cardboard robot costumes | cars from classic 80s movies | cars in space | ces video roundup | chinese factories | Chip Burka People | classic car user interfaces | classic gerry anderson scifi toys | classic microphones | classic pininfarina designs | collapsible gadgets | Collections of Insects | collectors with their collections | concept folding bikes | construction of the burj dubai | control rooms of all types | cool aircraft interiors | cool pocket sized gadgets | coolest vintage phones | craftsy weapons | crazy about tetris | crazy bicycles | crazy floating buildings | crazy japanese watches | crazy tesla coils | daredevil walls of death | dazzle ships | definitive list of subway architecture | dental chairs through history | depressing million dollar london property | different types of galvanometer | disappearing icons helter skelters | diving helmets | diy frankenstein lab items | drug smuggling submarines | earliest wrist watches | early warning systems | election broadcast technology through history | equipment to conquer everest through history | every postwar olympic stadium | evolution of the New York skyline | examples of instant architecture | exoskeletons | extraordinary armor | extreme kitchen gadgets | extreme vietnamese street cabling | famous les paul guitars | famous writers typewriters | fantastic vintage tvs | Fascinating Domino Toppling Videos | ferocious oil drill bits | First images from atoms to the universe | flash flashlights | flying helmets | flying machines | flying saucers | formula 1 user interfaces | futuristic biometric devices | futuristic cellular structure architecture | futuristic german car factories (videos) | futuristic interfaces | futuristic megastructures | futuristic ross lovegrove design | geek hall of fame apple users | general store architecture | ghost particle detectors | giant airship hangars | giant cranes | giant molten steel handling equipment | giant screens | graffiti covered | great climbing walls | great diy lighting ideas | guess the airport from the aerial view | gun shaped non guns | handmade super mario bros | homage to the chrysler | homage to the light bulb | homemade helicopters | IKEA in Hell | images of the worlds largest crowds | impressive moving bridges | Impressive Parkour Videos | inappropriate rocket powered items | incredible listening devices | incredible planetarium projectors | Incredible Roller Coasters | incredibly compact apartments | Incredibly Rare Classic Cars | industrial crushing machines | innovative lights | insane asylum plans | interesting balloons | interesting false teeth | interesting soapbox derby racers | Intimidating Samurai Armor Sets | inventors laboratories | ironic gun advertising | items to build an apple store | jailers key guns | jet engine test videos | jumping off notable architecture (and surviving) videos | Knock-off Game Consoles | Kowloon Walled City Guide | laptop stands | Lavish Home Theaters | lego like modular gadgets | life with a gas mask | light pipe architecture | linotypes from hell | lookout towers | lots of yellow submarines | macys parade ideas | massive record collections | mathematical lighting | mechanical animals | mechanical horses | mechanical marvel calculators | mechanical planetary models | medical manikins | memento mori timepieces | mercury arc rectifiers | mind reading devices | miscellany october 08 | mobile media devices | monster 80s boomboxes | most beautiful airport terminals | most beautiful land speed record vehicles | most beautiful spiral staircases | most blatant ipod copies | most complex watches | most extreme clothes | most extreme speakers | most extreme turntables | Most Interesting Scrap Yards | most wonderful telescopes | Movies of moving picture machines (videos) | moving walkways of note | musical instrument mashups | naked gadgets | nasty nerf weapons | nerds on segways | New York Retro Futurism | non Apple minimalist gadgets | nuclear powered transportation | odd spy cams | oil boom diamond kitsch | oil crisis car ads | oil spill cleanup technologies | old shoes | oobject 2012 holiday gift guide | oobject search for web birthplace at CERN | Oobjects perfect gadget bag | people riding bombs | Peoples choice CES 2008 day 1 | peoples choice gadget of 2007 | physical cutaway models | pictures of the lego house construction progress | pissoir designs | planetariums around the world | Pneumatic Trains | post modern cuckoo clocks | preposterous 18th century wigs | pressure suits | programmable roller coasters | radar consoles | radioactive products | real gotham city | real life video game scenes planes in the jungle | really cool pools | resqtec emergency devices | retro electronic board games | retro saturday morning cartoons | retro videophones | revolting gold gadgets | revolutionary arcade cabinets | Rock Cut Architectures | Rocket Sleds | Rope Bridges From Around the World | Santa Tobacco Ads | sci-fi costume fails | sextants | Shanghai vs Beijing architectural bakeoff | ships out of water | sinister bbc spy vehicles | Sky Captain gadgets & vehicles | skyscraper infographics | snowmobiles through history | soviet fighter plane monuments | soviet moon shot hardware | soviet satellites | space junk | spaceship like hot tubs | spectacular sewers | spectacular wind tunnels | star wars fanatics | start up sequences | stereo cameras | Steve Jobs vs America since 97 (videos) | strange musical instruments | stunning ray guns | stunning streamlined trailers | submarine construction and decommissioning | super sewer robots | Superhero Debuts In Comic Books | surreal underwater technology | survival kits | sword and gadget canes | tattoo machines | technology hq architecture | terrifying mining gear | The 10 most important examples of neon signage | the architect of detroit | The architecture of bunkers | the best designed toolboxes | the best of the hubble telescope | the escapades of steve ballmer | the extreme architecture of lighthouses | the extreme hardware of oil and gas | the genealogy of fixies | the golden age of american concept cars | The Great SMS Swindle | The Life of the Nintendo 64 | the perfect laptop stand | the pigeon net | the wunderkammer through history | things made in suburban garages | thrones | time lapse wii videos | tiniest gadgets | top 10 interesting tool chests | Top 10 Moon Rocket Models | top 10 oddball foosball tables | Top 10 Soviet Technology Ripoffs | top 10 unusual burglar alarms | top 12 harley earl designs | top 12 videos of creepy automata | top 15 classic calculator watches | Top 15 modernist gas stations | top 9 examples of technological regress | top circuit bent kids toys (videos) | top supercomputers | towers of babel | toy robot commercials through history (videos) | trading places | transparent glass stairs | tricked out gadget suitcases | tube testers | typology of milk floats | ultimate headphones | ultra zoom cameras | unreadable minimalist watches | unusual gas masks | unusual rubber duckies | unusual suitcase kits | victorian submarines | video list of 3D printers in action | videos of extremely loud car distorting stereos | videos of plane landings from the cockpit | videos of self assembling machines | Vintage Analog Lie Detectors | vintage analog synthesizers | vintage erector sets to buy | vintage fans for sale | vintage hairdryers | Vintage Lunch Boxes | Vintage Massage Gadgets | Vintage Portable Televisions | vintage ventriloquists dummies | watches worn in space | weird lights | weird outlaw radio transmitters | wonderful altoids hacks | wonderful tensegrity structures | wonderful welding masks | world changing gadgets | worlds greatest elevator rides (videos) | worst general lee | worst keytar (videos) | ww1 armor | Zeppelins under construction | zoobject cryptozoology quiz |