What Will Rio Do With Its Olympic Stadiums Now?

Authorities displaced approximately 80,000 people to make room for the new venues. Now that the games are over, what’s going to become of them?

Closing Ceremony

The highly anticipated and much-contentious Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finally came to an extravagant end with an explosive closing ceremony.

The torch has gone out, the athletes have packed up their medals and the crowd has dispersed. What remains now are large stadiums and swimming arenas constructed specifically to hold the games. If history is any indication, most of the time, these structures sit empty for years to come, racking up millions in maintenance but virtually useless to the local citizenry.

More often than not, the venues that once held scores of passionate fans and revered athletes from around the world turn into crumbling ruins.

Rio authorities displaced some 80,000 residents to build arenas and other gaming venues for the 2016 games. However, now that everyone has gone home, what is going to become of the buildings?

Turns out, the Brazilian government has some rather ambitious plans for the vacant structures.

In hopes to leave behind a successful and sustainable legacy, despite many environmental and developmental setbacks, the country has planned to transform the new buildings into schools and community centers.

Olympic Park

For instance, Rio’s Future Arena that hosted the handball and the Paralympic goal ball games will be taken apart and repurposed into four state-run schools in the neighborhoods of Jacarepagua, Barra and São Cristóvão. Each school will enroll approximately 500 students.

“The way everything gets moved from place to another is a bit like Lego,” said Manuel Nogueira, the managing director of the U.K. firm behind the design, as city Mayor Eduardo Paes called it “nomadic architecture.”

The arena is made of smaller, individual parts bolted together. The city will dismantle and move the roof, the panels, the vertical columns, and pretty much everything else to the three neighborhoods, where they will be reassembled again.

“The plumbing components and the wiring are all designed so that you don't rip it out,” said Bill Hanway, an architect from the U.S. firm that designed the master plan of the arena. “You unbolt it and remove it, and reapply it to these four schools.”

If everything goes according to plan, the temporary Aquatic Stadium will be turned into two community pools, the 300-acre Olympic Park that houses nine venues will be turned into public parks and private development.

Moreover, the International Media Center will be repurposed as a high-school dormitory.

“There's been a move toward more temporary venues in major sporting events and the Olympics,” Hanway added. “When we started working in Rio, the mayor became ever more conscious about the cost of everything, from the permanent structures to the more temporary ones. He came back with a [challenge]: Is there a way of reusing those materials at a modular level?”

While there are some doubts about Rio’s capability to pull off the plan, its efforts are nonetheless commendable.

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