- Title: UK/BRAZIL: OLYMPICS 2016: Rio's Olympic Park set to be party central in 2016
- Date: 8th November 2012
- Summary: BRAZILIAN FLAG AND BRAZILIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE LOGO
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2012 12:00
- Location: Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVAEU5YOHRUYMPE5WKJWHD8XDRH6
- Story Text: The architects behind London's successful Olympic Park say preparing Rio De Janeiro's equivalent is challenging but the aim is to create a party atmosphere for 2016.
Architects designing the main Olympic Park site for Rio De Janeiro 2016 hope to produce an area that reflects Brazilian culture but also ensures a party atmosphere when the biggest show on earth comes to town.
With London now resigned to history, plans are well advanced for the next Olympic and Paralympic Games with work underway in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood of the city.
The proposed Olympic Park will be built on the old Jacarepagua's race track, once the site of the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix. The area is a triangular layout spread over 300 acres and looks out to the striking blue water lagoons with the famed rugged mountains forming back part of a stunning backdrop.
International Architects Studio Aecom won the bid to design Rio's Olympic Park. Based in Holborn in London, Aecom have very recent history with the Olympics as they were also responsible for designing London's much-heralded Olympic park in Stratford.
Fifteen sports are set to be based at Rio's Olympic Park, including swimming, hockey and tennis, with a further 11 Paralympic competitions in 34 venues on the site.
A media centre, capable of accommodating 20,000 journalists, and the Olympic and Paralympic Villlages are also located in the Barra Zone.
In an interview with Reuters, Bill Hanway, 51, who led Aecom's Rio bid to win the contract, described the inspiration for the design and his company's hopes for Rio's Park.
"This is a simple representation, in many ways, of the street patterns of Roberto Burle Marx, who was a famous designer, landscape designer, that did all the sort of very interesting black and white street patterns of Copacabana Beach and Ipanema. And we've sort of transformed the scale into something more powerful. We're also trying to reflect the ideas of rivers flowing through the Brazil rainforests and so a lot of those things start to develop the idea of the design," Hanway said on Tuesday (November 6) as he talked Reuters through a small model of the proposed design.
"In terms of how this operates, we will have the majority of visitors coming from the north end of the park, transforming their way through all their way through down to the bottom to something that is called the "live site", which will have capacity for about 10 to 15 thousand people, having a major party down on the waterfront. To have big open screens, have concerts.
"So in terms of how we reflect Brazilian culture, it's very much about the sports and the Olympics, but also we want this to be one of the greatest parties on earth and that will be how we develop that and how we deliver that."
Hanway added they had tried to keep some remnants of the old Formula One track in the design to pay homage to the site's former existence.
"It was the old Formula (One) race track for Rio so it had this...topography was much easier than in London; very little containminated land, fairly flay, ready to go," he explained.
"But it did have the sporting legacy. So we have tried to keep some portions of the race track in the alignments of the legacy roads just so there is a memory and reference back to what it's original state was."
Unlike the London Games, the main Olympic stadium is not on the park site. The famous Brazilian football stadium, the Maracana, will host the opening and closing ceremonies while the Joao Havelange Stadium - home to the club soccer side Botafogo - is also being used during the Games.
Hanway said while having the main Olympic stadium worked well in London, it was not always necessary.
"We have at peak times up to 150,000 people on the site, in London it was about 175,000. So it's slightly less but still in the intensity we felt in London will be more than apparent here in Rio also," he said.
"So I think there are some advantages for not having that 80,000 seat stadium right in our site, in terms of slightly more flexibility in how we craft the spaces for people enjoy the Games."
The Olympic Village will take shape in an area called Vila Autodromo.
Vila Autodromo is an impoverished community that sits right next to the site where the Olympic Village will rise. Officials in Rio want to move the area's residents to new housing nearby.
In an email sent to Reuters late last month, (October 24) Rio's Housing Ministry said: "Vila Autodromo will be relocated as soon as the apartments from the Carioca Park project are ready." It went on to say: "They won't have to pay anything for their new apartments, of which they will be owners."
But residents remain unhappy with the situation.
Geraldo Nascimento, 57, is a mechanic and lifelong resident of Vila Autodromo. He said people would rather stay where they are and they do not see why they have to move to make way for the Olympics.
"Everyone here is happy and glad (about the Olympics), because it will bring a party atmosphere and enjoyment to everybody. But to come in here and start bothering us, it really makes no sense," he said.
"Over there is one thing, and over here is something else. If they think we're a stain on the landscape and to all the events happening around here, then just build a high wall and leave us to fix our own problems."
But President of Brazil's Olympic Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, said it was vital Rio had the best possible facilities for the Games and the designs and proposal indicate that is exactly what the city would get.
"Each Olympic Village is executed in a different way. It depends on the size of the area available, on what the local organizing committee is ready to offer the athletes, and on what the person leading the project plans to do. I have no doubt in my mind that Rio's Olympic village will be one of the best in the history of the Games," he said.
The Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre, built for the Pan American Games in 2007, is one of the Olympic venues already in place for the Games. But a number are set for construction from scratch and the International Olympic Committee has expressed some concern over the speed of progress.
The proposals and designs look strong on paper but the sucess or failure of Rio's Olympics will depend on the reality and all parties are confident a positive result will be achieved.
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