and creating more outdoor views. This was
a way of ‘taking the park into the building’.
As for the IOC’s iconic rings, the
architects turned them into a functional
object, a breathtaking oak staircase inside
a central atrium. Cascading from floor to
floor, each ring is attached only at the top
and bottom, as though suspended. None
of the rings touch; people climb the stairs to (^)
the right or left, then walk a few steps on
each landing to reach the next flight, the
design encouraging interaction. Each ring
is built like a wheel, with an outer rim that
creates the shape and an inner one that forms
the stairs. ‘It reads like a real circle, but the
geometry of a staircase does not work like
that,’ explains Ammundsen.
The staircase provides a wow factor from
the moment you enter the building. A statue
of de Coubertin stands before it, greeting
visitors, while a bronze olive tree growing up
from the basement is a nod to the Olympics’
Greek roots. Large screens on the walls show
sporting events, past and present. The ground
floor includes a fitness centre, a lobby café
and a pretty restaurant/meeting space with
circular skylights and a view of the lake.
Five hundred people will work here
in open-plan offices occupying the first and
second floors, with glass-enclosed meeting
rooms and a first-floor terrace. The third
floor is dedicated to governance, with the
president’s office and the executive board
meeting room, while the fourth has a roof
terrace with spectacular views.
For sustainability, the IOC wished
to honour both Swiss and international
certifications – an extremely ambitious
goal, especially since the certifications
had conflicting requirements at times.
It helped that Olympic House was designed
and measured wholly by computer, using
parametric design. ‘It would have been
hard ten years ago because we didn’t have
the tools to do it so precisely,’ Nielsen says.
More than 95 per cent of materials
salvaged from the old administrative
headquarters were reused or recycled.
The building’s compact shape reduces energy
needs, and the tilting and staggering of
its windows filters sunlight to keep it cool.
The façade is made of two separate glass
layers, which insulate and reduce noise.
Concrete in the walls and flooring helps
minimise the energy consumption for heating
and cooling, keeping the environment
temperate, while rooftop solar panels
contribute to the building’s electricity needs –
and from the air, look like a dove.
The nearby lake is a ‘fantastic asset’ says
Ammundsen, its water used for heating and
cooling. Rainwater is harvested for taps and
toilets. Most of the building’s contractors
were local, including Vitra, which supplied
furniture made of sustainable materials. The
grounds offer bicycle parking and Lausanne’s
first hydro charging station.
And though it is not open to the public
(the Olympic Museum in Lausanne serves
that purpose), the building feels welcoming.
Vegetated plinths slope down to the ground,
so the structure blends in with the landscape.
Cycle and pedestrian paths run by it, offering
views inside. Security is passive, consisting
largely of bumps and ditches.
The IOC developed its plans for Olympic
House at the same time as its strategic road
map for a more open and transparent future.
Ultimately, says Sallois, ‘This is more than
a building. It is a project of change.’ ∂
THE OLYMPIC RINGS
INSPIRED THE CENTRAL
‘This is more than a building. It is a project of change’