For the Olympiastadion Berlin, the central building to the historical 1936 Olympics sports complex, design problems between the historical preservation requirements, careful modernisation and current requirements for a multifunctional use, including that of a pure football arena, have been addressed and transformed into a synthesis.
The stadium is conceived as a uniform entity relating to the entire spatial context. The master plan proposed by Werner March in 1936 remains under urban historic preservation, with the new plans emphasising the quality of the original structure. All necessary additions have been placed underground, outside of the stadium, to prevent obvious visual intervention to the stadium’s graceful appearance.
The modifications cover the following areas: damage survey and renovation of the concrete structure, modification of the upper tier and complete reconstruction of the lower tier, sinking of the playing field by 2.65 metres, construction of the stand roof structure, modernisation of all technical and athletic areas, construction of VIP lounges and refreshment areas and the construction of outer, underground areas supporting technical functions and circulation consisting of bi-level underground garages for c. 630 parking spaces, an entrance tunnel, main technical and maintenance facilities, a warm-up hall with a 100 metre track and VIP entrance areas to the stadium.
For the renovations work on the façades and the cladding of the columns consisting of Muschelkalk (fossil embedded limestone) and Gauinger Travertine, utmost attention was paid to preserve the material. Before the deconstruction, an accurate record of the condition, placement and registration of each stone is kept in order to restore the original appearance.
The lower stand, which could not be saved within reasonable financial means, has been completely rebuilt in stages. With the construction of the lower tier, the playing field was lowered ca. 2.6 metres to settle the conflict between the distance required of the multifunctional track and field arena and the necessary proximity of the mono-functional football arena. Approximately 1,600 seats were gained through 2 extra spectator rows, which neared the viewers to the football field. In the future, the stadium will offer 76,000 seats.
With the modernisation of the stadium, new, independently accessible VIP spectating areas have been developed. The VIP boxes have been carefully installed with consideration for the existing structure and can be deinstalled if required.
The design of the stand roof fulfils the functional requirements, considering both artistic significance and preservation conditions. The new roof structure, with its open-ended ring towards the Marathon Gate, sets itself apart from stadium typology with its simple construction and choice of surface material, emphasising the urban axis from the Olympic Square to the Bell tower. The roof is designed as a light cantilevering steel construction with an upper and lower membrane. The total length of the steel trusswork functioning as the main support is estimated at 68 metres and is visible through the translucent membrane.
The construction height is minimised in the inner and outer edges so that the parapet of the stadium is accompanied by a minimally visible, low horizontal. This way, the roof construction does not dominate the stadium and the architecture of its historical façades remains intact. From the interior, the roof rests on 20 steel columns, which each have a slim profile of 25 cm in diameter, allowing as little obstruction to spectator view as possible. The necessary constructions to bear the roof loads are integrated into the upper tier construction, hidden underneath the natural stone facing.
Photo credits: Gmp Architekten, Fritz Busam, Heiner Leiska, Luftbild Berlin