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Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadi

Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadi (Atatürk Olympic Stadium) was constructed to support Turkey's candidature to host the 2008 Olympic Games in Istanbul (which were eventually assigned to Beijing, China). The stadium contains 80 000 seats and is situated on a flat piece of land far from Istanbul's city centre. The lower ring of continuous tiers - geometrically derived from the athletics track aside the playing field - lies down in a artificially created pit and consequently is invisible from the outside.

Only the two main tribunes are visible from the outside. Therefore, the stadium looks completely open seen from the north-south axis. The design of the tribunes accentuates the feeling of openness. An open space separates the main tribunes from the lower ring of continuous tiers. Moreover, the main tribunes gradually heighten towards the centre. The main tribune at the west side is characterized by two levels completely separated one from the other. It is higher than the main tribune at the east side. The east side tribune has one level only and its profile is less curved than the west side tribune.

The stadium is named after Mustafa Kemal, founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. It was designed to represent the city of Istanbul in view of the Olympic Games. Therefore, the architects Francesi Macary and Aymeric looked for a unique design with intent to leave a recognition mark. They succeeded thanks to the imposing roof on the west side tribune. The roof looks like a sickle that recalls the Turkish flag and that symbolically represents the bridge that connects Europe with Asia, two continents on which the city of Istanbul is situated.

The roof on the west side tribune is principally sustained by two concrete pillars of 60 meters (200 feet) each containing two suspension cables. This method, together with the access stairs towards the upper level, is similar to the Stade de France which was designed by the same architects. The roof of the east side tribune is lower but follows the shape of the opposing tribune. This ensures a uniform and equilibrating look of the stadium.

In the coming years, the Olympic Village around the stadium will be completed. This way, Turkey hopes that the Olympic Games will soon be assigned to Istanbul and that the Olympic Stadium will become "Olympic" in every sense.

© by Angelo Spampinato

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