Skip to main content Call 1300 782 950

Latest News

The Past, Present and Future of Olympic Architecture – How Does Rio 2016 Compare?

15 August 2016

With the eyes of the world riveted on the Rio 2016 Olympics, it’s worth taking a look at the venues in which the competitions take place – some new, some old and some redeveloped.

Hosting the Olympic Games opens up multiple opportunities for countries to highlight their design and architecture talent to the world. But do the host countries always embrace this opportunity?

You be the judge.

The Present – Rio 2016

All images and content courtesy of

Maracanã Stadium

The legendary Maracanã Stadium will stage the opening and closing ceremonies and the decisive matches of the men’s and women’s football tournaments (both finals and one semi-final in each). The iconic venue was modernised for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Maracana - Opening Ceremony & Football

Maracana - Opening Ceremony & Football 2

Olympics Aquatic Stadium

The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will host the swimming competitions and water polo finals, and has two swimming pools: one for the events and the other for warming up. The structure is temporary and will be dismantled after the Games.

Olympics Aquatic Stadium - Swimming & Water Polo

Olympics Aquatic Stadium - Swimming & Water Polo 2

Olympics Aquatic Stadium - Swimming & Water Polo 3

Rio Olympic Arena

The Rio Olympic Arena was used at the 2007 Pan American Games, and stands as one of that event’s main sporting legacies. During Rio 2016, the venue will stage artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnastic events.

Rio Olympic Arena

Rio Olympic Arena 2

Olympic Stadium

Built for the 2007 Pan American Games, the Olympic Stadium is the home of Rio 2016 athletics and one of the venues for the football tournament. Seating capacity has been temporarily expanded, and the running track has been completely modernised.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium 2

Riocentro – Pavilion 4

Riocentro Pavilion 4 measures 23,000 square metres, has a floor-to-ceiling height of 12 metres and a modern, low-speed air conditioning system – making it perfect for the Rio 2016 badminton competition.

Riocentro - Pavilion 4

Riocentro - Pavilion 4 2

Carioca Arena 1

Carioca Arena 1 is the new home of Olympic basketball. Built for the Rio 2016 Games, this multi-purpose facility spans more than 38,000 square metres. After the event, it will be part of the Olympic Training Centre, with facilities for 12 sports.

Carioca Arena 1

Carioca Arena 1 2

Beach Volleyball Arena

An impressive temporary structure situated on the sands of Copacabana beach, the spiritual home of beach volleyball in Brazil, the arena has a centre court for competition, plus five training courts and two warm-up courts.

Beach Volleyball Arena 2

Beach Volleyball Arena

Amazônia Arena

Built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, this stadium in Manaus will host six matches (four men’s, two women’s) in the group stages of the football tournaments. The city is in the Amazon Rainforest, whose influence can be seen in the stadium’s façade and shape, which is inspired by an indigenous basket of exotic fruit.

Amazonia Arena

Amazonia Arena 2

Fonte Nova Arena

The Fonte Nova Arena is in Brazil’s original capital, Salvador. Built in 1951 and renovated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the stadium will host eight group-stage matches and two quarter-finals (one men’s and one women’s) in the Rio 2016 Olympic football tournaments.

Fonte Nova Arena

Fonte Nova Arena 2

Mané Garrincha Stadium

The Mané Garrincha Stadium, in the national capital of Brasília, is the stage for eight group-stage football matches, including the men’s tournament’s opening match, and one men’s and one women’s quarter-final.

Mane Garrincha Stadium

Mane Garrincha Stadium 2


One of Brazil’s most famous football stadiums, the Mineirão was renovated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It will host six group games (four women’s, two men’s), two quarter-finals (one men’s, one women’s), a women’s semi-final and the men’s third-place play-off.


Mineirao 2

Carioca Arena 2

Carioca Arena 2 is the Rio 2016 venue for wrestling and judo competitions. After the Olympic Games, it will become a permanent training centre for a variety of sports.

Carioca Arena 2

Carioca Arena 2 2


The spiritual home of volleyball in Brazil, the Maracanãzinho was the natural choice for hosting the sport at Rio 2016. The arena was renovated for the 2007 Pan American Games, and has had one training court refurbished and another temporary one added for Rio 2016.


Maracanazinho 2

The Past and The Future

So how do the venues of Rio 2016 compare with London in 2012 and proposed developments for Tokyo in 2020?

London 2012

All images courtesy of London Town

London 2012 - Aquatics Centre

London 2012 - Basketball Arena

London 2012 - North Greenwich Arena

London 2012 - Olympic Stadium

London 2012 - The Velodrome

London 2012 - Water Polo Arena

Tokyo 2020

Images courtesy of Japan Times and Aida Architecture

Japan Times

Miyagi Stadium

Olympic Aquatic Centre

Olympic Gymnast Centre -

What’s your opinion? Do you think the host countries make the most of the opportunity to create inspiring and unforgettable architecture when developing their Olympic venues? Share your comment below – or share this post via social media to start a discussion.

linkedin twitter facebook

Looking for more design inspiration? Need a smarter construction solution for an upcoming project?

Feature Ceilings - Download

Project Reports