Sunday, November 18, 2007

City Integration Key to Olympic Success

Lawrence Nield of Bligh Voller Nield Architects, talked on Olympic Designs and his experience in planning and design for the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics at Old Parliament House in Canberra today. There is also an exhibition "Olympic Cities: Designing for Winning" at the same venue until 17 February 2008. There was also supposed to be a display of winning entries in a design competition for a The Athletic Village: Designs to Combat Obesity., but I did not notice them.

This is part of the University of Canberra's Canberra Biennial: Winning by Design: Designing for Sport in 21C. This seems to be a poorly organised and halfhearted attempt at a cultural event. Those responsible should either put the resources into the 2010 or cancel it.

Lawrence Nield gave an excellent talk, despite having just arrived from London, where he has been part of bids for the 2012 Olympic venues. He argued that the sport is an important urban ritual. Cities are more important that countries for the Olympics. He pointed out that an Australian competed in the first modern Olympics in 1896. Later games were not just about sport and incorporated art and some where held in conjunctions with expositions (Paris and St Luis). Helsinki has the most influential Olympic stadium architecture. The architect for the 1940 (unofficial) Olympics is unknown. Mexico had the best graphics. Barcelona integrated the games into public spaces of the city. Atlanta had the poorest public transport. Sydney succeeded by bringing heavy rail into the Olympic venue. Athens similarly used transport well.

Lawrence Nield suggested London 2012 would have been better off using the new Wembley stadium than building a new venue. He said that the time of the games could be extended and cheaper venues used to allow African and South American cities to host the games.

For my more modest contribution to Olympic design, see: Making an Accessible and Functional Website for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Official Website Preliminary Strategy Plan Symposium, Beijing, November 2003.

See also:
Books on Olympic architecture
Web pages on Olympic architecture

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