It’s SOCHI’s turn to wow the world- Richard Breslin & John Barrow

By iSportconnect | September 24, 2012

This month we look forward to a new story that promises to be every bit as remarkable, in its own way, as the London Olympics has been. Today we go to Russia, and the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi in February 2014.  Sochi’s new Fisht Olympic stadium is rising from the muddy ground of the Imeretinskaya Peninsula in a spectacular prelude to the Games in 18 months’ time.

The stadium is well under construction, and is due for completion in 2013, comfortably in advance of the Winter Olympics, an event which is hoped to be a showcase for the Russian Nation and the most stunning Winter Games in history.

As Project Director of Sochi’s new stadium, John Barrow (pictured bottom right) explains that for Populous the story began back in 2005, when Russia launched its bid to hold the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Unusually, Sochi has a Mediterranean climate, so the combination of benign winters on the coast and the proximity of good skiing in the mountains within an hour’s drive, proved to be a winning combination.

Populous  proposed a masterplan for the bid with just two centres, one for the Mountain facilities, and one for the Coastal Cluster containing the Main Olympic Stadium, Athletes’ Village, Media Centre, ice-skating and speed-skating venues.

That same masterplan has evolved over time, and it is now emerging as the centrepiece for a massive coastal development stretching for kilometres along the coast, including the new International Adler Airport, a new cruise-ship harbour, new universities, hotels, shopping centres, and commercial and residential zones.

The Olympic Park is a compact circle of indoor skating facilities, crowned by the Fisht Stadium itself.

Visible for kilometres in every direction, the iconic stadium will be a beacon and a lasting memory of the Games, long after the excitement of the Olympics has diminished.

We wanted to design a stadium which would satisfy the requirements for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and also the later needs of the FIFA World Cup in Russia to be held in 2018, and building on our successful experience in London, we emphasized the importance of legacy design.

Hence, the flexible capacity is paramount, flexing from 32,000 for the Olympics, to 45,000 for the FIFA World Cup, and the down to 25,000 for its ultimate use as a football and concert venue for the local community and university.

A combination of fixed and flexible seating within the amphitheatre is designed to give the stadium a sustainable future, without altering its external appearance.

Capturing views from inside to the sea in one direction, and to the mountains in the other direction, the stadium evokes memories of the gorges and valleys linking the mountain venues to the Olympic Park.

Sophisticated design studies allowed the stadium to be constructed on just two massive eccentric arches, splayed at different angles to acknowledge the individual presence of the mountains, sea and sky.

Comparisons have been made to a gigantic sea monster hauling itself up from the depths of the Black Sea on its powerful haunches, or perhaps a pair of ice hockey blades splayed to entice visitors inside.

Functionally, the arches also serve to provide access for the myriad of performers and special effects which will form an essential part of the ceremonies.