ATHENS OLYMPIC SPORTS COMPLEX

 

Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA)
Athens, Greece
2001 - 2004

Photos courtesy Santiago Calatrava archives


The new Olympic Sports Complex will provide a permanent center for athletic and cultural events within an ecologically sustainable park-like setting, served by an upgraded transportation system.  Calatrava¹s design addresses the facilities of the existing OAKA, located in Marousi, a suburb north of Athens, as well as their infrastructure and the access network.

The design concept is based on the idea of using three main elements; the ³Olympic Venues² (the different sports facilities), the ³Back of House² system (the service areas that provide infrastructure for the facilities), and the ³Common Domain,² ie. all areas accessible to spectators beyond the entrance of each venue.

The principal architectural interventions consists of a new roof for the Olympic Stadium, a new roof and refurbishing of the Velodrome, entrance plazas and entrance canopies for the complex as a whole, a central Plaza of the Nations, tree-lined boulevards, and a pair of arcade structures reminiscent of the ancient agora.

The design of a central Olympic Icon, a sculptural Nations¹ Wall, new warm-up areas for athletes, improvement of pedestrian bridges and connections to public transportation, parking areas and bus terminals, and the design of the installations and infrastructure for all elements.

All structures have been designed so that they can be prefabricated off-site in large measure, reducing the need for on-site personnel and equipment and minimizing interference with other construction work on the existing buildings.

The Olympic Stadium will be covered with a roof of laminated glass, capable of reflecting up to 90% of the sunlight. The roof, composed of a pair of bent ³leaves², will cover a surface of some 25,000 square meters. The bearing structure of each leaf is comprised of double-tied arches made of tubular steel, which span 304 meters and rise to a height of 60 meters.

Four entrance plazas will provide ceremonial access to the Athens Olympic Sports Complex.  Two of the plazas are located at opposite ends of a central circulation spine, which runs between the Olympic Stadium and the Velodrome.

Another two, on the north side of the complex, lead from the Irinis Electric Railway Station and the Neratziotissa pedestrian bridge to one of the two covered Agoras. Each entrance gate is roofed with a vaulted steel canopy.

The canopies provide the public with a clear identifying element for the complex which, when illuminated at night, will serve both as orientation devices and as attractions in themselves.

The Olympic Icon is a movable steel sculpture in the form of a spindle.

Mounted on an inclined steel pylon, the Icon can be rotated horizontally through a support point at the pylon¹s top. The Icon will serve as a a solar watch, casting its shadow on time-lines marked on the pavement at its base.

The Nations Wall is a tubular steel wall sculpture, designed to move in a wave-like motion, creating a pleasing effect of light and shadow over the central circulation spine and the Plaza of the Nations. The Nations Wall can also serve as a giant video screen.

All structures have been designed so that they can be prefabricated off-site in large measure, reducing the need for on-site personnel and equipment and minimizing interference with other construction work on the existing buildings.

Client: Organizing Committee Athens 2004