Olympic Stadium Architecture

The Helsinki Olympic Stadium is a building of significant national relevance. For many, the pure functionalist architecture of the 1930s, combined with the external appearance of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, symbolises the dawn of a new era for the young nation. With the epithet of being the most beautiful Olympic Stadium in the world, the arena is a result of an architectural competition held in the 1930s, won by the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti who submitted a proposal in pure functionalist style. 

The appearance of the refurbished Stadium is refreshed. The external architecture of the year 2020 combines the restored 1930s concrete architecture, the renovated parts of the 1950s as well as the new North stadium square with its food & beverage kiosks in concrete. The durable and functional architecture of the novel parts offers life-enriching experiences. The whole constituted by the various elements is a familiar and recognisable monument in human dimensions.

The architectural design of the renovated Olympic Stadium: the consortium K2S and NRT in cooperation with the Swedish Architects White Architects and the Dutch Wessel de Jonge.


Arrival to Stadium through south-north axis 

The visitor is met by an easily accessible and clear whole. Together with the external areas, the freely flowing audience galleries under the stand structures conform to the fine lines and solutions of the original Stadium. The plastered facades and their visible concrete structures and the brickwork in the curves are restored to their original look. The new entrances to the stands, with the concrete stairs poured in place, have been adapted to meet the rhythm of the concrete structure curves and brickwork facades. The renewed and higher wood cover of the facades conceals the new rain shelter structures in the curves. The details in the façade steel parts have been restored and the steel metal flashing is made according to the original drawings. The original frames and sashes of the steel and wooden windows have been restored while the glass sheets are new and more energy efficient.

Restored bowl surrounded by audience stands becomes a clean whole 

The original concrete shelter in the A section of the stand has been restored and the existing structures and details are back to what they were in the 1930s. The benches have been replaced by individual wood composite seats which constitute uniform horizontal lines as did the original benches in the Stadium stands. The curves and the back straight stands now also have rain shelter. Following the variation in light, the plastic form changes from a flowing shape in the Stadium scenery into a subtle line as time and movements change. The new shelter is not seen from the surrounding city and so the Tower remains the dominant feature in the cityscape.

The materials of the shelters and the seats are directly connected to the Stadium history. Wood was always the material of choice used in the 1950s to extend the concrete-structured Stadium, both temporarily and permanently, to reach its current appearance. Wood provides the audience stands with a tactile material and texture with minute scale. To ensure audience safety, the cover of the rain shelter is in fireproofed wood. The composition of the wood composite seats is also inflammable. The audio-visual technology required in the stands is integrated in the outer structures of the shelters and the bowl.

Restored functional clarity of interior spaces 

The light, structures and materials, combined with usability and sensory experience constitute the premise of architecture. The facilities in the 1930s part of the Stadium now serve as multipurpose space for various events. The third floor spaces in section A now have a new connection to the stands. The materials and shades of colour used in the original have now been restored. The spaces at ground level are limited through internal glass walls which leave the original concrete structures and façade windows visible, also during large-scale events.

Another Stadium built underground

The multipurpose underground sport facilities, with the new limiting western gallery, the tunnel following the tracks above, the northern logistics area and the multi-purpose hall in northeast curve constitute a completely new part of the Olympic Stadium. The materials are timeless and durable; white concrete, wood and glass. The light apertures in the silent space introduce natural light into the rooms and open views to the Stadium above. The concrete structures bring a rhythm to the space while the light wood cover is a reminiscent of the white formwork concrete surfaces of the 1930s.

To have a closer look at the architecture of the restored Olympic Stadium, join a guided Stadium tour!