Olympic House – a study in sustainability

by Ofentse Sefolo
Olympic House – a study in sustainability

The stunning new headquarters of lthe International Olympic Committee (IOC), Olympic House in Lausanne, brings the committee’s 500 staff members together under one roof. This is done in a building that is geared to further the mission of international cooperation, transparency and sustainability, and has received three of the most rigorous sustainable building certifications.

The IOC decided in 2014 to move ahead with the consolidation of its head office; and 3XN was selected for this task through a multi-stage, international architecture competition certified by the International Union of Architects and led by a jury of renowned architects.

Kim Herforth Nielsen, co-founder and principal of 3XN, explains: “The essence of the Olympic movement and its values served as the basis of inspiration for the design.

“Olympic House seeks to establish a high-quality working environment in a design prioritising transparency and flow to facilitate and encourage interaction, communication and knowledge sharing, and to create a highly efficient and sustainable workspace.”

Following the IOC’s brief, Olympic House is formed around five key objectives: Movement, transparency, flexibility, sustainability and collaboration – each of which translates the Olympic movement’s core principles into built form.

The interior
A hallmark of 3XN’s design, the facade pays tribute to the Olympic spirit by emulating the graceful movements of an athlete. The dynamic, undulating flow of the facade appears differently from all angles, conveying the energy of an athlete in motion.

Internally, the Unity Staircase, which references the Olympic rings, soars the full height of the building and connects the five floors through a central atrium. Following the principles of active design, the oak staircase and its periphery define the central area for social activity and movement, promoting a sense of community.

The design of the “Unity Staircase” is a nod to the interlocking rings of the Olympic Logo. The view from above shows the interlocking.

Exhibition spaces, a cafeteria and meeting rooms are also arranged around the central staircase, promoting a sense of community for the 500 regular users.

“The design allows the daily work and movements of the IOC staff to be visible through the transparent facade, reflecting the fair play and openness of the IOC,” says Jan Ammundsen, partner and head of design at 3XN.

More than an office building, Olympic House is a privately funded investment in sustainability and has been confirmed as one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.

What makes Olympic House so sustainable?
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate is the highest recognition level of the international LEED green building rating system, and Olympic House scored 93 points on the scale.

The building’s envelope allows excellent insulation through airtightness and the triple glazing on the internal skin of the facade.
• Water-efficient sanitary equipment and rainwater capture significantly reduce the building’s water consumption. Solar panels placed to underline the roof design, minimise the need for electricity from the grid.
• Another important sustainability feature is the use of lake water through heat exchange for the heating and cooling of the building.
• A total of 80% of the investment in the building – which is in the Louis Bourget public park, home to the 18th-century castle Château de Vidy in Lausanne – was spent on local contractors.
• A total of 95% of the former IOC headquarters was reused or recycled, following the circular economy principles. Solar panels and heat pumps, using water from nearby Lake Geneva, provide renewable energy to the building, which is expected to use 35% less energy and 60% less municipal water than a conventional new construction.
• Added to these are the planted roof, building automation and rainwater collection.

Royal commitment
HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco, chairperson of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission, said: “The new Olympic House combines symbolism, functionality and sustainability. With the achievement of unmatched standard levels, it demonstrates how the IOC is turning its sustainability commitments into action, serving as an inspiration for the entire Olympic movement.”

Costing $146 million to build, Olympic House is unique in the sense that one of its sole priorities is to lower carbon emissions.

It has been designed as a sustainable building in terms of both construction and operations, with special efforts put into energy and water efficiency, waste reduction and landscape integration.

Innovative features that minimise the building’s environmental footprint, without compromising the quality of the workspace, demonstrate the IOC’s shared commitment to sustainability.

Olympic House, the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has received three of the most rigorous sustainable building certifications. It has therefore become one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.

For more information, visit https://3xn.com/project/ioc-headquarters.

Click here for an inspirational video about the project: https://youtu.be/-Ph5bEpFfqk

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