A stunning new headquarters for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Olympic House in Lausanne brings all of the committee’s 500 staff under one roof in a building hailed as one of the most sustainable in the world.
The building is geared to further the mission of international cooperation, transparency and sustainability, and has received three of the most rigorous sustainable building certifications.
Designed by Danish architecture firm 3XN, Olympic House brings together employees previously spread across Lausanne in four locations.
The IOC decided in 2014 to move ahead with the consolidation of its head office and 3XN was selected through a multi-stage, international architecture competition certified by the International Union of Architects and led by a jury of renowned architects.
Following the competition, 3XN teamed with Swiss architecture firm IttenBrechbühl to oversee the construction of the project.
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 building authentically reflects Olympism, the Olympic Movement and the role of the IOC as a catalyst for collaboration in an iconic form.
Kim Herforth Nielsen, co-founder and principal of 3XN explains: “It was the essence of the Olympic Movement and its values that served as the basis of inspiration for the design.
“Olympic House seeks to establish a 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.”
Olympic House is located in a public park, home to the eighteenth-century castle Château de Vidy, on the shores of Lake Geneva.
3XN approached the project with the intent to achieve the highest level of integration with the unique natural and historical setting while creating an emblematic architectural landmark for the local community.
The resultant design respects both the Château’s legacy and the park setting, establishing seamless transitions between the green public space and Olympic House.
A hallmark of 3XN’s design, the façade pays tribute to the Olympic spirit by emulating the graceful movements of an athlete. The dynamic, undulating flow of the façade 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.
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 façade, 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.
Olympic House was built with the strong ambition to meet the most demanding sustainability standards both locally and internationally. It was awarded LEED Platinum, the highest certification level of the international LEED green building program.
Additionally, Olympic House obtained the highest (Platinum) level of the Swiss Sustainable Construction Standard (SNBS), and was awarded the Swiss standard for energy-efficient buildings, Minergie P.
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.
“We collaborated with leading specialists and manufacturers, following a holistic approach that ensures sustainability for the building’s entire life cycle” explains Robin Kirschke, partner at IttenBrechbühl.
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.