As contractors work frantically to complete construction before the start of the 2016 Games tonight, Hattie Hartman looks at what’s in store for the world’s sporting élite
Seated in a sprawling area of gated condominiums and shopping malls, Rio’s Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, 22 miles west of the city centre, is the most important of the city’s four Olympic ‘clusters’.
In contrast with London’s Olympic investment in its impoverished eastern boroughs, Rio has poured its limited resources into one of the most affluent areas of the city. Ilha Pura (Pure Island), the nearby Athletes Village, will house 18,000 athletes in 31 towers to be transformed into luxury condoniums after the Games.
The three other clusters are Copacabana, Deodoro, a formerly military site due north of Barra, and the city’s legendary Maracanã Stadium – built in 1950 and updated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament – which will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Predicted travel times between the ‘clusters’ are approximately 45 minutes to an hour, but that may be optimistic.
Olympic Park Masterplan by AECOM
Masterplanned by AECOM, Rio’s Olympic Park is located on a triangular site in Barra da Tijuca, which incorporates venues built for the Pan American Games in 2007. It contains seven permanent and two temporary venues.
Arenas Cariocas by WilkinsonEyre
WilkinsonEyre’s cascading three-in-one Arenas Cariocas will host various Olympic and Paralympic sports before being transformed into an Elite Athlete Training Centre – in an élite part of Rio – after the Games.
Sheltered under a single 400m-long roof, the three arenas, which can accommodate up to 36,000 spectators, are enclosed in a lightweight mesh façade.
Last week WilkinsonEyre, which handed the project over to the Rio Mais consortium to be delivered by local architect Arqhos Consultoria e Projetos in 2013, said: ‘We hope that Rio 2016 will now move towards our projected targets for the LEED accreditation for the legacy designs.’ In other words, post-Games, nothing is guaranteed.
The proportions of the massive triple arena retain a certain elegance from afar, though detailing inevitably suffered from budget constraints and value engineering.
All mechanical plant required for the month-long period of the Games has been designed as temporary ‘plug-in’ units which will be removed in legacy.
Olympic Way by AECOM
AECOM’s undulating Olympic Way, the park’s main pedestrian route, is an overly literal 21st century take on Roberto Burle Marx’s iconic Copacabana sidewalk (1970). The curved areas either side of the Olympic Way accommodate so-called ‘garden terraces’ and the white TV Globo Studio beyond. One can’t help but remember London 2012’s horticultural extravaganza in the show gardens and extensive wildflower meadows and see the Olympic ‘Park’as a missed opportunity in Rio’s lush tropical climate.
Jacarepaguá Lagoon. AECOM’s preliminary design for the canopy structure was handed over to local consultancy Embyá.
This new public realm offers spectacular views of Rio’s majestic topography but hardly masks the complete failure of Rio 2016’s commitment to jump-start the clean-up of Barra de Tijuca’s network of lagoons and Rio’s enormous Guanabara Bay. Along with the missed opportunity to upgrade 260 favelas (another Olympic promise), these are the city’s most disappointing Olympic outcomes. About a fifth of Rio’s 6.3 million inhabitants are slum dwellers.
Tennis Centre by GMP
The will accommodate up to 18,000 spectators during the Games and 8,000 seats will be removed for legacy. The façade of aluminium louvres fitted to the circular stadium to appear continuous and finished in red, yellow and orange are the only suggestion of tropical exuberance anywhere in the Olympic Park.
Olympic Aquatics Stadium by BCMF Arquitetos
This is the only structure on the Olympic Park which hints at Brazil’s design flair, not to mention its outstanding tradition of 1960s modernism. Ironically, it is temporary. The façade recreates a tile installation located at contemporary art centre Inhotim by Rio de Janeiro artist Adriana Varejao (1964 - ) which is inspired by the country’s Portuguese heritage of blue and white tiles. More than 60, 27m-high panels printed with an adaptation of the original artwork wrap the building, decorated with blue and white images that depict angels provoking a seaquake. This temporary structure will house swimming and water polo during the Games and will be dismantled and reconstructed to form two smaller aquatics centres in legacy.
Handball arena by AND Architects
In another token gesture to sustainability, the future arena has been badged by Rio 2016 as ‘nomadic architecture,’ a theme originally intended to pervade the Games. Nevertheless, the AND Architecture venue, which will house handball and Paralympic goalball, has been painstakingly designed and procured so that it can be dismantled and reconstructed as four schools for 500 students each.
Olympic Velodrome by Backheuser Arquitetura e Cidade
Originally intended as a re-use of the legacy velodrome from the Pan American Games, refurbishment proved too costly and a new velodrome was built, which will serve as a municipal velodrome in legacy. Concept design was by Münster-based Schürmann Architects, designers of seven Olympic velodromes.
International Broadcast Centre by AECOM
The largest building in the Olympic Park, the International Broadcast Centre will host 20,000 broadcasters this month. Beyond are the Tennis Centre by GMP and the Olympic Velodrome.
Museu do Amanhã by Santiago Calatrava
Inaugurated in December 2015, the £40 million Museum of Tomorrow is located on Pier Mauá and is the centrepiece of the 5 km² Porto Maravilha project, a public-private partnership to redevelop Rio’s former derelict port area that formed part of the city’s Olympic bid.
The project included tunnelling a four mile-long stretch of elevated motorway, linking a neighbourhood of historic warehouses to the waterfront with new promenades and plazas. Financed through a combination of public funds and sponsors including Santander and British Gas, a 200m-long exhibition hall features digital displays ranging from the origins of the planet to today’s ecological challenges presented on 10m-tall totem-like screens.