Saturday, September 10, 2011

Post-Event Conditions: Olympic Villages

To begin general research, I am focusing on host post-event situations from an economic, cultural, political, ecological, and social perspective.  Using a variety of examples, I will also take a look at infrastructural impact, transportation, etc. over a large span of time in different parts of the world (from the original Olympic games in Ancient Greece/Rome to obviously more contemporary events).  I may even explore some conditions of hauntology, or how the essence of what a place used to be embeds itself in the physicality of the present environment.  This will be less factual research and more speculative. This works well within my area of interest in housing, as well as the manufactured/unintentional/accidental environment, or 'ruin' not as a romanticized static object, but a continually becoming environment.  


The following Olympic Villages were built with the single intention to house athletes, officials, trainers, and staff through the duration of the Olympic games, without firm plans future use.  Their post-event fates were determined based on the needs unique to the city.

Example 1: Berlin 1936 Summer
In preparation for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, 145 one- and two- level apartment buildings were constructed in a village organization, as well as a refectory, theater, hospital, indoor arena, and swimming pool.  The village is located in Wustermark, roughly six miles outside of Berlin.  For fifty years after the games ended the residences were used as barracks.  Currently, the village is abandoned and left to decay.  No restoration plans are in the works, though Jesse Owens’s old house has been restored.

Example 2: Munich 1972 Summer
1972 was a pivotal year in Olympic history due to the “Munich Massacre,” which occured in the Olympic Village after a security breach when a group of Palestinian guerrilas known as Black September held hostage and murdered eleven Israeli athletes and affiliates.  This incident lead to substantially increased security in all following Olympic years.  The Village itself was comprised of multiple buildings ranging from 12 to 25 stories high.  After the athletes moved out, part of the village was used as student housing, but was marred by several incidents of vandalism and destruction, most notably during a student riot in 2007.  Currently the student housing area is approved for demolition.

These Olympic Villages were usually built through the funding of a secondary party with a specific intended program after the Olympic event.  The challenge of this type is to be able to accomodate diverse programs that will never interact simultaneously but must function seemlessly during their respective times of use.

Example 1: Lake Placid 1980 Winter
Seven miles west of Lake Placid, the 1980 Olympic Village was built with the funds of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with the intention of establishing a future minimum security prison for first time offenders.  Ironically, the security precautions of keeping potential escapees inside a prison are similar to keeping potential terrorists out of the Olympic Village.  This particular Village sparked much controversy and displeasure from several guest countries, who considered the small rooms and low levels of natural light to be uncomfortable and ill-suited to their athletes.  Several chose instead to stay at local clubs in Lake Placid.  Today the Village is known as the Ray Brook Correctional Institution, and functions as a medium security prison for males.  This is a unique situation among Olympic Villages, where the prospect of the future haunts the present more than the past haunts the present.

In response to Montreal’s economic deficit after the Olympic games, many cities were wary to even bid for the games in fear of reaching similar fate.  However, the use of existing buildings, primarily college residence halls, eliminated the need for an entirely new Olympic Village to be constructed, thus lowering initial construction costs and increasing the potential for an economic surefit after the games.

Example 1: Los Angeles 1984 Summer
In an attempt to greatly reduce initial expenditure brought by the construction of new buildings, the city of Los Angeles decided to reuse existing structures.  The Olympic Village was actually located in the residence halls of Univeristy of California at Los Angeles, as well as the University of Southern California, and the University of Californa at Santa Barbara.  This was able to occur during the summer, as it was easier to vacate students when not during the academic year.


In certain cities, the issue of temporary athlete housing was dealt with by constructing a satellite Olympic Village away from the main venue, usually a suburban condition.  In some situations the planning phases of these suburbs were in the works prior to the event, however, the event itself encouraged these plans to be put into action.
Example 1: Athens 2004 Summer
While the creation of a new suburb worked well for Sydney four years prior, Athens did not fare as well after their Olympics in 2004.  A new Olympic Village was created as a suburb in Parnitha.  The suburb was composed of several apartments in a block typology, ranging from four to five levels, and was located near Maroussi, the suburb where the main Olympic complex was located.  After the games moved out of the city, the suburb was intended for residential living.  However, the Village along with the main Olympic complex has fallen into disrepair.  The village has a capacity for 10,000 people, yet it currently remains vacant.

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