Rio’s ambitions to stage the world’s “best value” Olympics hinge, in part, on applying many of the legacy planning strategies of the London 2012 Games. With just two months to go until the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Rio is “on the cusp” of reaping the same legacy benefits enjoyed by London, according to AECOM, the company behind both cities’ Olympic masterplans.
AECOM’s sports and masterplanning experts have drawn on their London 2012 Olympics masterplan to help Rio maximise the legacy potential of its Games. In London, 75 percent of capital expenditure* was invested in transport and utilities infrastructure, land and water clean-up, public open spaces, new homes, and permanent sports and leisure facilities. A similar approach has been adopted in Rio. The Games have already helped accelerate the development of public transport, while power and data facilities installed to cater for 20,000 journalists from the international media will make the Olympic Park one of the best connected districts in Rio.
Bill Hanway, Global Sports Leader, AECOM, said:
Despite Brazil’s current economic and political challenges, the guiding principle has always been for the Games to serve Rio and boost its development, improving the quality of life for all its citizens. The Games are a catalyst for changing not only the city, but the aspirations of future generations. As with London, our approach is to take a long-term view that sees the Games as a milestone in the ongoing legacy programme. The Games and the success of the event are the primary focus, but also serve as a driver for the future. It’s an opportunity to invest in underdeveloped areas and significantly upgrade transport and infrastructure. Rio is now on the cusp of reaping the legacy benefits.
Working closely with its partners at Rio’s Municipal Olympic Company (EOM), AECOM has exported knowledge gained from delivering masterplanning, landscape architecture, engineering and sustainability services for the London 2012 Games. In Rio, AECOM has reprised these roles with additional responsibility for the preliminary design of the Barra Olympic Park’s sports arenas and detailed design of the International Broadcast Centre.
During the Games, the Park is designed to prioritise the safety and free movement of over 150,000 spectators expected on peak days. At the conclusion of the Games, the focus will switch to the transformation of the site into lush, green parkland, with AECOM’s landscape design strategy transforming large spectator areas into a new linear park for the community. The overriding goal is to deliver a sustainable Games in the very broadest sense, so the host city derives ongoing economic, social and environment benefits.
Parallel Approach to Games and Legacy Masterplanning
AECOM’s masterplan for Rio covers a 20-year period, with three distinct phases: preparation for the event; a transitional phase; and the long-term legacy. All phases were planned in parallel to smooth the transition between modes. For example, the layout of roads and the capacity of utilities in the Barra Park were designed to cater for the planned residential, educational, commercial and sporting legacy.
During the Games, spectators and athletes are the priority. The Via Olímpica, a broad weaving concourse running north to south, lies at the heart of the Barra Park and provides easy access to the sporting venues. Crowd flow dynamics were studied to optimise open spaces, the density of structures and positions of shaded garden rest areas.
Plants used throughout the Park progress from forest species in the north to coastal flora at the south. Native varieties have been used wherever possible, bringing the added benefit of less need for irrigation than foreign species.
The post-Games transition phase, including the deconstruction and repurposing of temporary structures, will take between five and seven years to complete. In the legacy phase, more than three-quarters of the site will become a new neighbourhood. Just under a quarter of the Barra site will be occupied by permanent sports facilities, which in legacy mode will provide elite training facilities for the Brazilian Olympic team, as well as a sports high school for future Olympians. The velodrome will remain a cycling venue, the tennis centre will be adapted to host tournaments, and the Carioca Arenas will become a Sports Academy School and multi-sport training facility. The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will be rebuilt as two smaller community pools.
Designed with Sustainability at its Core
Rio is relieving the public purse through partnerships with the private sector, while a focus on value has led to Olympic-quality facilities that have simplicity and sustainability at their heart.
AECOM was tasked with delivering the strategy for reusable, temporary structures that could be moved and rebuilt as community facilities and schools after the Games. Venues including the Handball Arena and Olympic Aquatics Stadium employ efficient, highly standardised designs based on modular, stacked and repeated bolted steel structures to ease dismantling and reassembly. This ‘nomadic architecture’ approach will allow the Handball Arena to be transformed after the Games into four new primary schools across the city, for example.
As well as providing full architectural services for the International Broadcast Centre, AECOM delivered preliminary designs for six new sports venues: the new Velodrome, Olympic Aquatics Stadium and Tennis Centre, as well as three adjoining Carioca Arenas that will host basketball, judo, taekwondo and wrestling competitions.
The International Broadcast Centre meets strict environmental and sustainability standards, while also fulfilling broadcasters’ needs in terms of power and data connectivity, acoustics and temperature control.
The Park will become one of Rio’s most sustainable districts.
* International Olympic Committee, London 2012 Facts & Figures, November 2012 Update.