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Athens 2004


Athens’ candidature for the 2004 Summer Games planned to use the existing stadium at the Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens in Marousi, with no major redevelopment work envisaged. Inaugurated in 1982 to coincide with the 13th European Athletics Championships, the stadium hosted events such as the Mediterranean Games in 1991 and the World Championships in Athletics in 1997.

Athens was awarded the Games in 1997, and the project to cover the stadium with a modern, iconic roof was announced in the spring of 2001. The concept, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was presented to the public in June 2001. Building work began in 2003 and was successfully completed despite the tight deadlines. Renovation work was also carried out inside the stadium, with 66,000 new seats installed in the stands and new executive suites and a press conference room added.


The oval-shaped, north-west/south-east facing stadium, located to the north-est of the city, is made up of two curved tiers of stands. The two-sectioned roof is composed of two double-arched tubular metal supports running parallel to one another, towering over the stands and running the length of the stadium. The two double arches span 304 metres. Transverse beams are fixed onto either end of the lower arches, supporting the transparent part of the roof, composed of polycarbonate panels. Three series of cables deployed from each of the upper arches provide further support to the structure. In total, 10 kilometres of cables were used. The two sections of the roof are connected at each end. The roof has a total surface area of 25,000m2 and weighs 18,700 tonnes.

Kishimoto/IOC / YUBA, Yasuo

[…] the complexity of the engineering involved is incredible - there are simpler ways of spanning a roof over a stadium, but none would look as spectacular as the Santiago Calatrava design. Nick Ling From the company Sinclair Knight Merz, speaking in 2003. Sinclair Knight Merz was involved in checking the stadium cover concept and analysing the structure.

The two sections of the roof were assembled outside the stadium, some 70 metres away from their final destination, where they were subsequently transported on tracks. This operation was carried out in May 2004 for the west arc and in June 2004 for the east arc. For aesthetic reasons, it was decided that the joints on the various segments that made up the arches should not be visible. The segments were therefore bolted on inside the tube and the joints were welded subsequently.

The roof is designed to withstand earthquakes of up to 8 on the Richter scale, as well as violent winds.

IOC / HUET, John


In 2004, AEK Athens Football Club, which had occupied the stadium between 1985 and 1987, returned to play their home matches in the O.A.K.A. main stadium. Panathinaikos FC also used the stadium for several seasons between 2005 and 2013. In addition to hosting sports events, the top-class facilities of the Olympic Stadium have served as the venue for major cultural events such as concerts.

IOC / HUET, John


- The concept for the Opening Ceremony had an impact on the preparatory work for the stadium. In the centre of the field, huge decorative elements emerged from a well that was 25 metres wide and 23 metres deep. A 37km network of cables positioned more than 36 metres above the stadium was used to move these objects in 24 directions. Four main towers, 55 metres high, two stabilising towers and 24 secondary towers were required to bring this to fruition.

- Architect Santiago Calatrava’s contribution was not limited to the Olympic Stadium but extended to the whole Athletic Centre of Athens. The project to bring aesthetic uniformity to the complex involved, in particular, the velodrome covering, an Agora which includes a 99 steel arches structurein the shape of a rotunda and a 250m steel kinetic sculpture known as the “Wall of Nations”.


- Andreas Georgoulias, Theodoros Patramanis and Spiro N. Pollalis (supv.), The Roof of the Olympic Stadium for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games from Concept to Implementation, Harvard Design School, February 2006, pp. 6, 12, 17, 31.
- Athens 2004 Candidate City, Athens 2004 Olympic Bid Committee, 1996, vol. 2, p. 43.
- “Historic Approach”, website of the Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens Spiros Louis (O.A.K.A.).
- “Le complexe olympique d’Athènes”, website of Athens 2004.
- “OAKA – Stade olympique”, website of Athens 2004.
- Official Report of the XXVIII Olympiad: Athens 2004, ATHOC, Athens, 2005, vol. 2, pp. 162, 242, DVD: Behind the Scenes of the Athens 2004 Opening & Closing Ceremonies.
- “Site olympique OAKA à Athènes – Un hommage sensuel à l’apesanteur”, Steeldoc / Construire en acier, Centre suisse de la construction métallique (SZS), no. 4, 2005, pp. 4- 11.
- “Stadium”, website of the AEK FC.
- “Stadium”, website of the Panathinaikos FC
- “The Olympic Stadium”, Media Info 2004, ATHOC, no. 1, April 2000, p. 45.
- “The ʻWowʼ factor”, Panstadia International, vol. 9, no. 3, February 2003, pp. 6-13

Name: Also known as the Bird’s Nest
Location: Olympic Green, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Status: Built for the Games. In use today.
Designers: Herzog & de Meuron, Arup, China Architectural Design & Research Group, Ai Weiwei
Cost: -
Capacity: 91,000 spectators (80,000 permanent seats and 11,000 temporary seats)
Dimensions: 333m long, 294m wide and 69m high
Additional information: Total surface area of 258,000 m2, 110,000 tonnes of steel, of which 42,000 were for the external structure
Construction: December 2003 to June 2008
Official opening: 28 June 2008
Events during the Games: Athletics (including the start and finish of the two 20km and the 50km race walks and the start of the two marathons); final of the men’s football tournament.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

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