Architecture of the Games: Will Pyeongchang’s roofless stadium be too cold?

The Pyeongchang Olympic Games might be the coldest Winter Games yet. The temperature for the Opening Ceremony, held on the 9th of February, is predicted to sit between -9 and -6 C (15-20 F) with very strong, biting winds. In an area known for its harsh winters, it does seem like an odd design choice for the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium to be without a roof or central heating. Even roofless, the stadium is estimated to have cost the South Korean government $109 million US dollars. For the Opening Ceremony organisers plan to provide the 35,000 spectators with a windbreaker, a blanket, a heated cushion and hand and feet warmers for the three-hour long ceremony. This stadium is the first temporary stadium in Olympic history and will be torn down at the end of the Paralympics. The upkeep of such a stadium is a huge expense and, as is evident in Rio where many of the venues built for the 2016 games are in disarray, Olympic venues are sometimes more of a burden than an asset.

PyeongChang Stadium

Pyeongchang won the bid to host the Olympic Winter Games in 2011, after two failed attempts in 2003 and 2007. South Korea are well rehearsed in hosting large sport events. They have hosted the summer Olympics, the FIFA World Cup and the IAAF World Championships; a rare feat only achieved by a few other countries. It comes as no surprise that all the venues were completed on schedule and most have been tried and tested out last winter. The list of new, and permanent, structures built for the Olympics include three new stadiums (making up the Gangneung Olympic Park), two Olympic villages and a Medal Plaza.

The Winter Olympics run February 9-25 and the Paralympics March 9-18.

Images courtesy of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Website.

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