To stage the Games, the Organising Committee initially planned to build a temporary wooden stadium on the athletics field in the Östermalm district. In the end, however, it was decided to build a permanent stadium on another sports site near the smart residential districts of Stockholm, the Athletic Park, which was more central and with easier access, thanks to the existing tram line. Torben Grut, the architect commissioned to design the building, had to change his original plans to fit the particular conditions of the new site. He therefore proposed a wholly new project, for a stadium in stone, which would be more resistant and durable but was also costlier.
The planning and construction of the Olympic stadium were marked by difficulties in finding the funding needed for the work and reach an agreement between the various bodies involved, namely the Organising Committee, the government, the Swedish Central Association for the Promotion of Athletics, behind the Stockholm candidature, and the Athletic Park Company, the site owner. After long negotiations between the various parties, begun in November 1909, the Central Association acquired the site for 127,000 krona, and the King of Sweden gave his final approval to the stadium plans on 28 November 1910. Funds from the national lottery were used to help finance the building.
The shape of the stadium is like a U-shaped magnet, with the ends, pointing towards the north, each marked by a square tower. The main entrance is on the south side, in the centre of the semi-circle. A cast-iron clock was installed on a façade of the eastern tower. Inside the stadium, there was a football pitch surrounded by an athletics track measuring 384.1 metres. The royal box in the centre of the eastern wing offered a complete view of the stadium and was ideally positioned to watch the finish of races. To avoid athletes and officials having to cross the athletics track during the competitions, a tunnel built beneath it links the north-east exterior of the stadium with the infield.
The stadium walls are made of large bricks, placed and jointed using a medieval process used to build the walls of certain cities, fortresses, monasteries and churches in Sweden. Other kinds of bricks were used for the wall decorations and the Roman arches of the stadium arcades.
Between the stadium walls and the cast iron barrier marking the boundary there were public gardens and walkways. There were various entrances to the building and its surroundings for spectators. The main entrance, to the south, known as Valhallavägen, consisted of two arches with turnstiles and a wider access gate for vehicles. There were other access points to the east, west, north east and north west.
To accommodate an extra 3,050 spectators, the decision was taken in September 1911 to build an additional stand at the north end of the stadium, between two towers. In addition, the capacity of the permanent stands was increased by extending the existing stands down to the level of the track, using temporary wooden seating.
The Gothic stadium, with its pointed arches and towers, its technical perfection, its well- planned and methodical regulations, seemed a model of its kind.Pierre de Coubertin
AFTER THE GAMES
The stadium was lent to the Organising Committee for the duration of the Games and then returned to the Swedish State, which took over the management of it afterwards.
The stadium was once again used for the equestrian events of the Olympic Summer Games in 1956. In 1958, fixed stands were added to increase spectator capacity.
Since its creation, it has hosted and continues to host numerous sports competitions, including national and international athletics events such as the Diamond League, the Bauhaus-Galan meeting and the Stockholm marathon. The stadium is also used regularly for concerts, the first pop music concert being held there in 1987. Cultural events are also organised. The stadium is even used in the winter, with three 430-metre tracks created for cross-country skiers.
It has maintained its original aesthetic and architecture until today.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Intended for local artists and talented youngsters to express themselves by sculpting artworks, large granite blocks were installed around the façade of the stadium. Two sculptures under the clock in the eastern tower were completed in time for the Games: they represent Ask and Embla, the first human beings created by the gods in Nordic mythology.
- Ake Jönsson, Guide to the Sunshine Olympiad, Stockholm: Klocktornet Media AD, 2012, pp. 129-130,
- “Fêtes et Cérémonies”, Olympic Review, 8, August 1912, p. 125, 127.
- “‘Fire, When Great Festivals Are Celebrated at the Stadium’ – The ‘Olympic Flame’ in Stockholm 1912”, Journal of Olympic History, vol. 19 no. 3, December 2011, pp. 44-45.
- Geraint John, “Theatres of dreams”, Olympic Review, 59, April-June 2006, p. 66.
- Jeux Olympiques à Stockholm, Suède en 1912: Ve Olympiade: Programme et dispositions générales, Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912, 1912, 33.
- Jeux Olympiques à Stockholm, Suède en 1912: Ve Olympiade, “Sports Athlétiques”, Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912, 1912, 9.
- “OS 1912 – Byggandet av Stadion”, website of the Swedish Central Association for the Promotion of
- Pierre de Coubertin, Olympic Memoirs, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, 1997, p.
- The Official Report of the Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912, The Fifth Olympiad, Erik Bergvall [ed.], Swedish Olympic Committee, 1913, 168-186, 190, 209, 292, 345.
- The Official Report of the Organizing Committee for the Equestrian Games of the XVIthOlympiad, Stockholm 1956, Melbourne 1956 Organising Committee, 1959, 41.
- “Stockholm Olympic Stadium”, website of the IAAF Diamond
- “Stockholms stadion” and “Stockholms stadions historia”, website of the city of Stockholm
|Name:||It is called the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, or simply the Stockholm Stadium.|
|Location:||Lidingövägen 1-3, 114 33 Stockholm, Sweden|
|Status:||Built for the Games. Currently in use.|
|Designers:||Torben Grut (architect)|
|Cost:||~1,250,000 Swedish krona|
|Dimensions:||~210m long and ~121m wide|
|Construction:||Autumn 1910 to spring 1912|
|Official opening:||2 June 1912 (Date given on page 292 of the official report. Several later sources give the date as 1 June.)|
|Events during the Games:||Gymnastics, athletics (including the start and finish of the marathon and cross-country), tug of war, Greco-Roman wrestling, jumping and dressage for the equestrian events (but not eventing), some of the football matches and the running part of the modern pentathlon. Opening Ceremony. It was also used for other festivities linked to the Games, including a banquet for 3,000 people, a concert and the opening of the equestrian events.|