London 2012 Olympics sets a high benchmark for Sochi 2014 Winter Games
From one Olympic Games to the next. On Sunday 12 August 2012, Thomas Heatherwick’s cauldron was extinguished and dissected into 204 individual petals and the sky above Populous’ Olympic Stadium illuminated by untold numbers of fireworks. In two weeks time the various stadiums and sporting arenas at the Park will be tested further as the London 2012 Paralympic Games get underway but in the meantime, the world - and the architecture industry in particular - has turned its gaze to Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Games.
Moments before the Opening Ceremony two weeks ago, Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014 President and CEO, announced that construction was progressing with gusto on the infrastructure for the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. There may be less hype for the Winter Games than its summer counterpart, but the impact that this international sporting event can have on Sochi, Krasnodar Krai in Russia is critical.
Chernyshenko detailed: “Our preparations are in great shape, with the major projects such as the motor and railway road from Coastal to Mountain cluster now almost 90% complete. This year we’ve hosted successful international pre-test events at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and - even though it is summer - the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center has just successfully hosted the FIS Continental Cup.”
Despite widespread concerns that London would be unable to cope with the immense influx of visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games this summer, travel in and around the capital has been largely without congestion aside from some traffic jams as drivers first encountered new road markings. Travel has been swift and trouble-free on the majority of public transport routes, setting a new standard for infrastructure around the Olympic Games. As such, the target for the Sochi Games - as confirmed by Chernyshenko - is for 75% of all competing athletes to travel five minutes or less from their Village accommodation to any sporting venue.
Back in February 2010, the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee signed an agreement with Russian Railways to redevelop a large proportion of the city’s infrastructure, including: the construction of roads and railways; station and terminal construction and modernisation; establishment and operation of freight yards; and the construction of a new wing at Cape Vidny Sanatorium. The partnership is not only for the benefit of travelling athletes and spectators, but will enable the smooth transportation of construction materials to site for realisation of the event venues.
Russian Railways are also in the process of designing and constructing a new multimodal terminal station in Adler which will combine travel by rail, air and sea, capable of handling 15,000 people per hour. Construction of 157km of roads leading to and from the Games centre are also underway, much of which can be found in mountainous regions with varying degrees of engineering complexity. Realisation of twelve mountain tunnels with a combined length of 30km has already been completed, and a 48km road and railway line with 71 bridges and flyovers is under construction.
The Fisht Olympic Stadium has been designed by stadium specialists Populous, the innovative architects behind main stadia for the Sydney, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Shortlisted for the WAN AWARDS 2010 Civic Sector, the Fisht Olympic Stadium sports a swooping roofscape that provides spectators with views of the mountains to the north and the sea to the south. When completed in 2013, the Fisht Olympic Stadium will have capacity for 40,000 spectators and will host the opening and closing ceremonies and the medal ceremonies.
Many of the stadia including the Olympic Skating Center, Bolshoi Ice Palace and Curling Center have been overseen by Olympstroy - The State Corporation for Construction of Olympic Venues and Sochi Development at Alpine Resort. The team is managing the construction of five new arenas and stadia as well as the associated infrastructure necessary to host an international sports competition of this size. Chief Architect at Olympstroy is Oleg Kharchenko, who recently told insidethegames: “Each venue has an original and memorable shape; people like it when they see the architecture of a certain image. [The Olympic Stadium] rises over the Olympic Plaza as a top of a mountain above the plain, like a sail above the water surface. I am sure that in the course of time this venue will become one of the trademarks of Sochi.”