architecture

The Olympics' new Swiss HQ is both eco-friendly and symbolic

Published 21st June 2019
The International Olympic Committee's new headquarters has been designed by Danish architecture firm 3XN.
Credit: Adam MØRK/IOC
The Olympics' new Swiss HQ is both eco-friendly and symbolic
Written by Amy Woodyatt, CNN
The new Swiss headquarters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is finished -- and the building, in the city of Lausanne, is the most sustainable in the world, the architects say.
Designed by Danish architects 3XN and built in collaboration with Swiss architects IttenBrechbühl, the building occupies a scenic spot on the shore of Lake Geneva, inside Louis Bourget Park and next to the 18th-century Château de Vidy, which is also used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Rainwater will be collected onsite and solar panels have been installed on the building's roof.
Rainwater will be collected onsite and solar panels have been installed on the building's roof. Credit: Adam MØRK/IOC
Created for the IOC's 500 employees, the design of the new HQ pays homage to the Olympic legacy, while also maximizing eco-friendly features -- over 95% of the materials from the buildings being replaced were reused or recycled, and the building scores highly against three major sustainability certifications, 3XN said.
Rainwater will be collected on site and used for plant irrigation and for the building's toilets, and the roof hosts solar panels, which the architects say will produce "an amount of electricity equivalent to the consumption of 60 Swiss households."
"For now, it's the most sustainable building in the world,'' Kim Herforth Nielsen, founder and senior partner at 3XN, told CNN.
The building's facade is shaped so that it is self-shading from the sun, minimizing the need for air conditioning while allowing daylight to flood the glass structure.
The building's staircases are inspired by the five Olympic rings, designers say.
The building's staircases are inspired by the five Olympic rings, designers say. Credit: Adam MØRK/IOC
"To be very sustainable, you need a lot of daylight, but not a lot of sunlight. The facade is self-shading from the sun -- it doesn't allow too much sunlight to come in and heat up the building. To make a glass building sustainable has been a challenge, and this is how we overcome that," said Herforth Nielsen.
A 27,000-square-foot, plant-covered green roof, terraces and a fitness center were also incorporated into the design.
Reflecting the legacy of the Olympics, the building was designed to convey a sense of movement -- a stop-motion image created from a series of photographs of a snowboarder was the inspiration for the design of the facade, Herforth Nielsen added. The design of the staircase incorporates the five Olympic rings, and the building is butterfly-shaped to optimize daylight and the views of the surrounding park.
The new headquarters is next to the 18th-century Château de Vidy, also used by the IOC.
The new headquarters is next to the 18th-century Château de Vidy, also used by the IOC. Credit: Adam MØRK/IOC
"With its dynamic, undulating façade, the building will appear different from all angles and convey the energy of an athlete in motion. Its interior is designed with as few structural constraints as possible. This open and flexible environment will adapt to multiple work styles now and in the future," Jan Ammundsen, head of design at 3XN Architects, said in a statement.
Construction began in May 2016 and cost 145 million Swiss francs ($147 million), 3XN said. The building won the "Office -- Future Project" award at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam in 2018.