Evaluating Perspectives of Olympic Legacy in Modern European Olympic Architecture (1948-2012)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Olympic Games are the World’s largest International Mega Sporting Event, and its principal philosophy is to promote human health and wellbeing through sport, culture, art and education. Sebastian Coe told the Olympic conference in 2005, that legacy is epicentral to the Olympic Games, stating “legacy is probably nine-tenths of what the process is about: not just 16 days of Olympic sport". However, the legacy of the Games has become a complex construct with external influences that are difficult to control and standardise amongst different nations
and cultures. There are several existing examples of negative legacy outcomes from Olympic host Cities in the 20th and 21st Centuries. For example, much of the construction for the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics now lies abandoned despite being structurally sound; whilst all bar one of the Rome 1960 Summer Olympic Venues remain in use to date. With the rising economical and societal costs of hosting the Olympics, it is with increasing importance that legacy outcomes need to be improved. Public opinion regarding the current status of the
Olympic buildings in Athens is testament to this. The post-event dereliction of the Olympic Stadia has divided public opinion over whether Athens should have staged the Games in the first place; and placed the management of the project and it’s planning and execution under scrutiny. The aim of this paper is to evaluate perspectives of legacy in the context of the Summer Olympic Games. It will make a contribution to a broader PhD thesis examining the architectural
and structural legacies of the Modern European Architecture of the Summer Olympics post-World War II. This supports the existing base of knowledge, first by focusing on the field of Architectural Design, which is currently underreported and, second, recording the current legacy situation, which is progressive and changing over time. The scope of the thesis encompasses all Summer European Olympic Cities from London 1948 to London 2012, thus providing a broad spectrum of Olympiads to examine and scrutinise, from which a greater
understanding of what makes an Olympic City successful or unsuccessful in terms of ‘Architectural Legacy’ can be formulated. The focus on Europe allows for fairer social and economical comparisons to be made, and the exclusive assessment of the Sumer Olympiads allows for the fairer geographical and environmental appraisal. The disparity between the Summer and Winter Olympics is beyond the remit of this thesis. With the first and last post-War Olympic Games both being held in London, the idea that legacy changes and develops
over time is strongly supported. It is anticipated that this PhD will generate further, developmental research questions that draw attention to the importance of legacy research and the requirement to improve legacy outcomes via the medium of Olympic Design. Long-term, this will impact upon the prevalence of positive Olympic legacies in future host cities of the Games, by developing regeneration strategies that better satisfy the IOC’s aim to “promote a
positive legacy from the Olympic Games”, and improve the future for the wider community post-event. Legacy is a reportedly difficult concept to define due to its multifaceted nature; and the aspiration of seeking to improve Olympic legacy without understanding first the characteristics and complexities of the construct would be an unmanageable assignment. This paper aims to feed into the thesis by evaluating perspectives of Legacy in relation to Olympic Design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication12th International Post-Graduate Research Conference 2015 Proceedings
Place of PublicationSalford, Manchester, UK
PublisherUniversity of Salford
ISBN (Print)978-1-907842-72-6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event12th International Postgraduate Research Conference (IPGRC 2015) - Salford
Duration: 10 Jun 2015 → …


Conference12th International Postgraduate Research Conference (IPGRC 2015)
Period10/06/15 → …


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