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Agile thinking at Rio 2016

Brazil’s Olympic legacy rests on ‘nomadic’ demountable structures

The live site at night.
The live site at night.

A series of ‘nomadic’ demountable temporary structures will form a key element of the legacy strategy for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, site masterplanner Aecom has revealed.

The Handball Arena and Olympic Aquatics Stadium venues incorporate highly standardised, modular, stacked and repeated bolted steel structures, designed to be easily dismantled and reconstructed.

This kit of parts approach will allow the Handball Arena to be transformed into four new primary schools post-Games, and resited across the city. The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will be taken down and its parts used to build two aquatics centres, one with a covered 50m pool and capacity for 6,000 people, the other with a 50m pool with capacity for 3,000 people.

Consultant Aecom devised the strategy for reusable temporary structures as part of an overarching 20-year masterplan for the Games, comprising three distinct phases: preparation for the event, a transitional phase, and the long-term legacy.

Olympic Way.
Olympic Way.

Bill Hanway, global sports leader at Aecom, told RIBA Journal: ‘Designing the  venues from the outset as temporary facilities with a pre-determined legacy outcome meant the additional cost of construction was minimal. The legacy benefits are clear: there is an identified need for additional schools in Rio, especially in the expansion areas to the west of the city. By using this technique, we are able to help the mayor deliver more educational capacity for the money available in the schools budget.’

The approach to the temporary structures was inspired by similar buildings installed for the London 2012 Olympics, notably the elemental construction of Wilkinson Eyre’s basketball/handball venue.

Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes coined the term ‘Nomadic architecture’ when describing his thoughts on temporary architecture used for major sports events.

  • Bill Hanway.
    Bill Hanway.
  • Terraced garden.
    Terraced garden.

As well as  masterplanning the project, Aecom delivered full architectural services for the International Broadcast Centre and preliminary designs for six new sports venues: the new Velodrome, Olympic Aquatics Stadium and Tennis Centre, as well as three adjoining Carioca Arenas that will host basketball, judo, taekwondo and wrestling competitions.

It will take five to seven years to complete the post-Games transition phase, including the deconstruction and repurposing of temporary structures.

Legacy plays an important role in the Olympic Training Centre (OTC) Halls, which will be transformed after the Games into training venues for Olympic athletes and community use as well as a new high school for future elite athletes. ‘For this facility, we are reusing the external gantry structure for the International Broadcasting Centre that we designed for the Games,’ said Hanway. ‘It will become the framework for student housing on the site adjacent to the OTC Halls.’

More than three-quarters of the Barra Olympic Park – the heart of the Games site, housing nine venues plus the Press and International Broadcast Centre ­– will become a new neighbourhood in legacy mode.