Stretching out into the still blue lagoon waters, set against a backdrop of rugged mountains, these are the spectacular first images of how Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic park will look in 2016.
Designs for the complex in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood of the city have been revealed by the architects that won the contract to mastermind the project in London.
The waterfront park will be built on the former Brazilian grand prix track in a striking triangular layout spread over 300 acres.
It will play host to 15 Olympic sports including swimming and hockey and a further 11 Paralympic competitions in 34 venues on the site, 18 of which are already operating.
It will also house a media centre to accommodate 20,000 journalists and the Olympic and Paralympic villages are also located in the Barra zone.
Unlike the London Games, the main Olympic stadium is not at the park – athletes will use the famous Brazil football stadium, the Maracana, which will also be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the Joco Havelange Stadium – home to the club side Botafogo.
Building work is well underway with the project said to be more straightforward than London because several venues are already on the site due to its former role in hosting the Pan American Games.
International Architects Studio Aecom, based in Holborn, London, were also responsible for designing London’s much-heralded Olympic park in Stratford.
Bill Hanway, 51, who led Aecom’s Rio bid to win the contract said: ‘It is very exciting. It will show off the best of Brazilian architecture in a magnificent setting.
‘This is the first Olympics in South America and Rio is the most beautiful city in the world and we have tried to reflect the beauty and spirit of the place in our masterplan.’
Explaining how it will differ from the London park, Hanway added: ‘London was very complex because of the old industry and network of canals. Rio is more straightforward in that it is flat and already partially developed.
‘But our approach has been very similar, especially with regards to leaving a legacy and in using Brazilian architects in the same way
British architects were used in London. That is something that was key in London and Eduardo (Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of Rio) was keen to do the same.
‘We are already talking about some interesting ideas of converting some of the temporary venues into public buildings, like schools after the games. That is really exciting.’
Hanway said one of the main challenges facing Rio was public transport. The city of six million people has just two metro lines.
‘The authorities are working on the transport and are extending the lines out to the park. The good thing for us, is a lot of the upgrades will be done in time for the World Cup in 2014,’ he said.
Venues such as the velodrome and aquatics centre are already at the site, requiring only minor conversions to bring them up to standard to host the Games. And unlike London, the park will also host the Olympic tennis.
The images also show how the park will appear in ‘legacy mode’ after the Games when the temporary venues have been removed.
Barra da Tijuca, known as Barra by locals, is situated in the south west of Rio. It is known for its pristine Atlantic beaches and lush greenery.
Outside of Barra, the neighbourhood of Copacabana, famous for its long stretch of white beach, will host the rowing, sailing, canoeing and beach volleyball.
A separate zone in the Deodoro area of the city will host other competitions including modern pentathlon, shooting, equestrian, cycling and fencing.
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