Using International Experience For the Central Olympic Stadium

Ilya Makovsky
Chairman of the Board, Chief Engineer

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Games are very important for Russia both in terms of international image and the development of the Krasnodar region. Before tenders for the venues started, it was already understood that using international experts and their experience was more than welcome.

Almost a year ago we created an international team of architects, project managers and builders to win an iconic project — the design and construction of the Central Olympic Stadium, or COS, for Sochi 2014, the “heart” of the Olympics where all the ceremonies will be held.

After some preparation, we started design work and found out that building an Olympic venue is much more difficult than building a normal venue, because you have to comply with at least two different sets of standards — International Olympic Committee and domestic. This can get complicated as they often contradict each other.

Additional problems come from the three required purposes for the stadium. Normally, Olympic venues also have a so-called legacy use, but the Russian bidding committee for FIFA 2018/2022 decided to include the COS in its bid book. Therefore, it should be made possible to use the venue as: (1) an Olympic stadium for opening, closing and medal ceremonies with 40,000 spectators; (2) a football stadium for the local team with 25,000 spectators; and (3) a FIFA World Cup stadium for 45,000 spectators. As we can all understand, requirements for these three uses differ greatly. One simple example is that the lobby area of a stadium in Russia is calculated based on full capacity, whereas internationally it is based only on 50 percent of the total number of seats.

This shows us that Russian norms and regulations are outdated, as they were mostly created decades ago. As our foreign architect said: “Designing a stadium that is fully compliant with Russian standards will lead to a venue that is 30 percent bigger and 50 percent more expensive.” So, we hope Olympic construction will be the engine that drives the changes in this sphere and be the first example of how such projects can be successfully realized.

Now, as designs are almost finished, we are at last seeing the great result of a big team’s hard work — an efficient stadium with a bright architectural concept inspired by a Winter Olympics held at the seashore. We have recently started construction work on site to deliver a great stadium in 2013.