Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 2012

Olympic Village
Instructor: Zaha Hadid/Patrik Schumacher, Di-Angewandte, Vienna, Austria

Throughout history, the olympic games have always been defined by the international spectacle of - not one, but many - dramatic events. The torch relay, the opening ceremony, the many presentations of medals, the competitions themselves, and the closing ceremony. In 1972, the events of the Olympic Games in Munich were framed by another event: the mega-structural Olympic Park by Frei Otto and Günther Behnisch. Similarly in 2008, the games in Beijing were inscribed into memory by a field of iconic and singular objects, such as the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. This proposal for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will participate in this lineage of flashes and events, but will be staged uniquely in the manner of which it blends the ‘spectacle’ with the public act of ‘spectation’ itself. The simultaneous consideration of ‘mass’ and ‘envelope’ actively delivers a sensibility of continuity with a bias toward composite logics.


Fifteen new stadiums and ten training facilities are proposed in synchrony with four hotels - a total of 2500 hotel rooms. A balance between continuity - or fluidity - and semiotic differentiation between lobes of space, view corridors and movement are of critical importance in the massing of this proposal. The stadiums are densely packed into clusters of soft forms pressing into one another. The directionality of clustering behavior is dictated by four focal points - with varying degrees of influence - which are distributed within the boundaries of the Olympic Village. Where the soft formed stadiums converge at these focal points, hotel room masses emerge and form the binding matrix which fuse the stadiums together. By shaping the hotels and stadiums into continuous forms that press and hold onto one another, the division between the spatial dominion of the spectator and the public event - as well as the monumental centrality of the stadium typology - is blurred.


The envelope which forms the limit of space is not defined per stadium, per hotel or per any other program; any ‘individual’ envelope is bound, layered and laminated to other envelopes. This is achieved through the composite logic of the envelope’s material and fabrication strategy. Drawn from the layered systems of laminated sail technologies, surface and structure are blended to generate plastic and continuous forms. The envelopes are then conceived as structural shells where symmetry is not a requirement of structural equilibrium - as concrete shell studies of the mid-twentieth century have illustrated. Lamination provides rigidity uniformly throughout a surface while precisely located folds and wrinkles are placed where required by structure and aesthetic composition.

Ostensibly, this strategy blurs the distinction between figure and field - part to whole - as the attributes (the limit of the envelope and the directionality that draws each individual soft form) are shared between parts.

Critics: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher, Philippe Block, Klaus Bollinger

Olympic Village_Rio De Janeiro, Brazil_Wael Batal_Hadid Studio_Di-Angewandte from Wael Batal on Vimeo.

Untitled from Wael Batal on Vimeo.