Realising a radical union between arts and sports at the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters

Competition: AL_A's proposals for making Pierre de Coubertin's dream a reality in Lausanne

December 10 2014

The Olympic Campus is the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, accommodating all 500 members of staff across one site. There is no more unifying organisation than the Olympics. The assembling of continents and nations, pitched against each other in competition while sharing their pursuit of sporting perfection is a noble quest. Our design uses the abstract power of Olympic values to drive the physical form of the building.

Horizon between lake and mountains

Our inspiration grew out of this exceptional setting: a tree filled parkland where lake meets mountain. With an intuitive move, we create a new reference point in the landscape, a roofline creating a horizon between lake and mountains, a line between earth and sky.

The landscape of the ground plane is drawn in under the horizon line and into the new headquarters for the IOC, and in turn the ground plane of the IOC programme takes the Olympic movement into the park itself. In this way, we enhance the reading of the site as a truly universal place.

The Olympic values of sport, friendship, education and democracy are expressed through four ‘châteaux’ conceptualised as courtyards carved out of the horizon plane. Together with the original Château they allude to that most powerful symbol of the Olympic movement, the five interlaced rings and the diversity of the five continents in union.

Together under one roof

A new relationship between Lausanne parkland, Château and the IOC merges notions of democracy and sport into a coherent and powerful message. We invert the normal campus relationship of individual pavilions and instead orient the building under a single roof, expressing the imperatives of interconnectedness, collaboration and common endeavour.

Over 100 years ago Pierre de Coubertin proposed a radical union between arts and sports. Our proposal has the potential to bring these two pursuits together under one roof. It could be that this is the moment to realise Pierre de Coubertin’s dream.