Structural steelwork of the Olympic Stadium’s new canopy, hidden by now under roof structures. Photo Arto Rautio

Olympic Stadium’s canopy awarded as structural steelwork of the year

The Helsinki Olympic Stadium undergoing thorough renovation and transformation has earned the 2019 award for the structural steelwork of the year. The award was conferred for the architectural design and structural engineering of the stadium’s canopy. The steelwork enables the form and delicate appearance of the canopy. 

The only steelwork of the canopy visible to spectators is the few steel columns supporting the roof, which are placed far apart. The canopy is invisible from outside, as it remains hidden behind the Stadium exterior, with the wall cladding of the exterior made slightly higher than the earlier cladding with the help of new supporting steel structures. Inside the stadium, spectators can only see the stone-and-pine-wood strip cladding of the ceiling and light strips between cladding structures. 

The canopy, which covers the Stadium’s curving bleachers, will change wind conditions inside the Stadium. As a result, bleacher structures have been tested and studied in wind tunnel and other experiments. Wind gusts, projected to be very strong at times, are offset with the shape of the canopy, which resembles the wing of an airplane, with details of the canopy’s bolt connections and by anchoring the main columns supporting the canopy to withstand upward forces. The canopy’s PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofing covering nearly 15,500 square metres and its connections are engineered and built to withstand exceptionally demanding wind loads. 

In addition to the canopy, the Olympic Stadium project has used high volumes of steel, both in temporary structures during construction and in renovated and new structures mostly under the Stadium field. The new canopy covering the bleachers forms a part of the sizable renovation and transition of the Olympic Stadium, which is one of Finland’s most important protected buildings. The renovation and transformation project upgrades the Stadium to meet current and future needs of sports and other events. 

The structural steelwork of the year award was conferred to K2S Architects Ltd. for the architectural design of the canopy and to Sweco for their skillful engineering of the demanding structural steelwork. In addition, the award was conferred to the client, that is, the Stadium Foundation, the City of Helsinki Urban Environment Division as the contractee, Skanska as the contractor, and JPV-Engineering Oy, a company based in Aura which has installed and partially manufactured the structural steelwork of the raised building exterior. 

The winner of the structural steelwork of the year award is selected by an annually rotating independent award committee. The committee chair this year was Antti Nousjoki, SAFA, of ALA Architects, a member of the architectural team that won the structural steelwork of the year award of 2018 for Helsinki Central Library Oodi. 

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Release on the topic by Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT (in Finnish)