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Berliner Olympiastadion

Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium) in Berlin was built to host the 1936 Olympic Games on behalf of Adolf Hitler. The stadium had to be an imposing structure to express the power of the Nazi regime. Designed to hold 100 000 spectators, the stadium served as the centrepiece of the Reichsportfield, an Olympic complex of enormous dimensions. Solidity and authority were at the basis of the stadium project. These are now characterized by a colonnade of neoclassical origin that is placed along an elliptical structure. From a geometrical point of view, the colonnade is 'pure' and defines the external look in a powerful way. The interior ring of the tiers is dug into the ground. This enables the pillars of the colonnade to reach the top level of the stadium. The colonnade was designed to impress the spectators when accessing the stadium.

At one side of the stadium, the main axis is expressed by two identical towers. They indicate the main entrance. The Olympic rings are suspended between the towers to symbolically complete the design of the portal. At the other side of the stadium, the continuity of the tiers along the elliptical perimeter is suddenly interrupted by the 'Marathon Gate'. It is defined by two robust blocs that served to welcome the Olympic flame. The Marathon Gate contains the winners names of the Olympic Games. The axis subsequently culminates with the 'Führerturm' which is highest tower in front of the Marathon Gate. It heightens 75 meters (246 feet).

However, Hitler wanted a more noble stadium and assigned another architect at the end of the construction. Architect Werner March was replaced by architect Albert Speer, the trusted architect of the Führer. Later in history, Albert Speer would be called 'Architect of the Devil'.

After three years of hard labour, in 1936, the Olympiastadion was opened to the public with a total capacity of 100 000 and a seating capacity of 65 000. During the second world war, the stadium - symbol of the Nazi power - was bombed by the Allies. Afterwards, the stadium was completely restored and renovated.

On occasion of the World Cup 1974, the Olympiastadion was partly covered for the first time. A roof existing of steel and Plexiglas was added on the main tribunes. At that time, these were modern and light materials and gave the stadium a completely new look.

On occasion of the World Cup 2006, the stadium was yet again completely renovated. Works started in September 2000. The project of the renovated stadium respected the original structure of the Thirties. However, this time the stadium was completed covered by a new roof. Just like the tiers, the roof also interrupts at the Marathon Gate. A membrane of semitransparent Teflon was used to create the roof structure, contrasting the robust volume of the stadium.

© by Angelo Spampinato

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