Olympic gold: a new exhibition programme in Lausanne celebrates the sporting stadium

Beijing’s Bird’s Nest national stadium
A new exhibition at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne zooms into one of the games' key architectural protagonists – the stadium. Pictured: Beijing's Bird's Nest national stadium, for the 2008 Olympic Games
(Image credit: Ai Weiwe)

Olympic architectural plans frequently prove divisive, with the Games’ infrastructure and shiny new builds often being the subject of ongoing debate, both before and after the always-anticipated tournaments. Either way, the Olympic Park’s main stadium is always its crowning jewel, an emblematic centrepiece that swiftly becomes representative of each year’s Games – and this is exactly what a new season of events at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne focuses on.

Looking into the giant sport structures, the museum is rolling out an extended stadium-related programme, titled ‘Stadiums Past and Future’ – it comprises a temporary exhibition, public talks, a magazine and educational activities. ‘It is about looking at stadiums as a whole, and not only architecturally,’ explain the organisers. ‘Building a stadium is about building the future – modifying a city’s urban landscape and leaving a legacy.’

Athens Panathenaic Stadium, built in 1896

(Image credit: press)

Developed by architect Geraint John – vice president for innovation and technology transfer at EPFL Pascal Vuillomenet – and sports historian Nicolas Bancel, the exhibition makes useful notes for the future but also travels back in time, exploring everything from the Ancient Greek stadium in Olympia, through to the modern-day games. Addressing questions of legacy, urban planning and sustainable development, the exhibition guides the visitor into a journey through the different incarnations of the stadium within the Olympic context.

Highlights include a look into Roman arenas and the Athens Panathenaic Stadium of 1896, designed by Ernst Ziller and Anastasios Metaxas, which launched the Olympic Games as we know them today.

The Seoul Olympic Stadium

(Image credit: press)

Berlin’s Olympiastadion

(Image credit: press)

The Munich stadium

(Image credit: press)

Stadiums Past and Future’ is on view until 7 May 2016. For more information, visit the Lausanne Olympic Museum’s website


Olympic Museum
Quai d'Ouchy 1
1006 Lausanne


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).