Reconstruction and Roofing, Germany
Competition 1998 – 1st Prize
Design Volkwin Marg and Hubert Nienhoff
Managers of planning partnership Kemal Akay, Uwe Grahl
General project manager Jochen Koehn
Project leaders Martin Glass, Ivanka Perkovic, Alexander Buchhofer
Client City of Berlin
Construction period 2000–2004
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How do you convert propaganda architecture into an opera with a happy end? The biggest problem in the conversion and extension of the Berlin Olympic Stadium for the 2006 Soccer World Cup was a historical one: How could the identity of the arena, which Hitler used to great effect for his propaganda during the Olympic Games of 1936, be transformed in such a way that, 70 years later, it would radiate the absolutely positive identity of a global event that brings the world´s people together? And this without hiding or denying its difficult history?
The technical challenge was no less tremendous: How do you convert a half-rotten, open-air arena with concrete benches into a modern stadium? And can a proper soccer atmosphere even develop in such a spacious, multipurpose-stadium? Just imagine converting a Greek amphitheater into Milan’s La Scala.
Out of respect for the historic design, all necessary new buildings were erected underground outside the stadium. The playing field was lowered by 2.65 meters so that, step-by-step, the non-restorable, old lower stand could be replaced with a new one closer to the playing field, intensifying the experience of the game. But the most important aspect of the conversion was the roof, which, like the stadium itself, is not a closed circle but open at one end. Thus the visual axis from the east gate across the stadium towards the bell tower outside was preserved even after conversion. Its delicate structure and the choice of surface materials deliberately set it apart from the solid tectonics of the historic building. The roof also contains a unique lighting system that can make the interior appear almost as theatrical as La Scala.