Archive for the ‘every postwar olympic stadium’ Category
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.
__SPACER__ 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.