July 3


Olympic Park - static and optical masterpiece

By Frank

July 3, 2020

It is one of the most beautiful and elegant works of 20th century architecture.

Stable and light, lively and inviting, protective and attractive in equal measure. A real stroke of genius. The roof was designed by the Institute for Lightweight Structures at the University of Stuttgart under the direction of Frei Otto . They looked for the simplest forms. To do this, they experimented and observed.

Lean back, close your eyes and listen relaxed...

Aha! Cool ...

Once upon a time there was a commercial airport...

On the once flat Oberwiesenfeld , the building site for today's Olympic Park, Munich-Oberwiesenfeld airport was located until 1938, then the former parade ground for the Bavarian army, later the US Army airfield. After 1945 one of the three rubble mountains in Munich was created, the material from which was brought in from the heavily war-damaged city. The heap on the Oberwiesenfeld was 56 meters high and contained 10,000,000 cubic meters of rubble ...


The Olympic Park is one of the most impressive and popular places in Munich. Created for the 1972 Olympic Games, some of the most important buildings in the Bavarian state capital can be found here: the Olympic Stadium , the Olympic Hall and the Olympic Tower .

Well over 10,000 events have already taken place in the Olympic Park: a total of more than 100 world , European and German championships as well as numerous other events such as concerts, trade fairs, exhibitions , etc..

Architect Günter Behnisch had the idea of converting the sports facilities with a lake and adjacent hills into an " Olympic landscape ".

Olympia Park at a glance

The Olympic Park marks a major turning point in Munich garden art . The leading Kassel landscape architect Günther Grzimek placed the Olympic Park in the context of the social upheaval of the 1960s.

The motto of " taking possession of the lawn " expresses the appropriation by the population as an emancipatory process . The park becomes a place of social freedom . The usability of the urban open spaces should be in the foreground, and not an abstract idea. The park becomes a place of social freedom With this Günther Grzimek , the leading landscape architect in Kassel , is also orienting himself towards the ideal of democracy .

With 160 hectares, the Olympic Park is one of the largest green spaces in Munich .


Tent roof construction - pure mathematics ...

The tent roof construction is characteristic of the Olympic Park, which was a visual and static sensation at the time of its construction. The 74,800 m² construction, suspended from 58 steel masts and made of translucent Plexiglas , spans the Olympic Stadium , the Olympic Hall and the Olympic Swimming Pool . Originally projected costs were 37 million marks, actual costs amounted to 202 million marks .

The tent roof construction of the Munich Olympic Stadium was an architectural sensation at the time, something completely new! The transparent roof was intended to symbolize lightness and openness . The prerequisite was that Roof should definitely be translucent . After all , the organizers wanted to broadcast the Olympic Games on color television, which had just started and needed a lot of light for it . A wooden or concrete roof construction was therefore not an option .

In contrast to many other stadiums, the Munich Olympic Stadium blends harmoniously into the surrounding landscape of the hilly Olympic Park thanks to the curved tent roof . Looking at the huge curved surface , it seems like a miracle that the construction stands at all . In contrast to many other sports stadiums, the Olympic Stadium in Munich does not look ostentatious at all.

Planning and implementation of the idea

They have observed – soap bubble skins ! Yes, they played with bubbles, much like we did as children. However, they did not limit themselves to spherical structures, but dipped all sorts of wire frames into the soapy water and observed what came out of it.

There is mathematics in the soap skin form, the mathematics of minimal surfaces . Soapy water has a "mathematical" property. It is only one, but it implements it consistently and uncompromisingly: it is always formed in such a way that its surface is as small as possible .

The mathematics of minimal surfaces is extremely difficult, you have to solve the most complicated differential equations. Ultimately, the mathematical formulas are only an expression of the stability and unsurpassed elegance of the Olympic roof.

At that time, the people from Stuttgart made thousands of tests , documented all of them and then selected the appropriate shape for the Olympic roof – as before for the German pavilion at the world exhibition in Montreal (1967).

What is there to see?

SEA-LIFE Aquarium

Sealife; Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung

In the Sea Life Center in the Olympic Park, visitors can immerse themselves in the underwater world - without getting wet . 

More than 3,000 sea creatures from 150 species are kept in over 33 tanks with 700,000 liters of water on 2,200 square meters.

A ten meter long underwater tunnel made of acrylic glass leads through a 400,000 liter tropical pool . Visitors can expect 15 themed underwater worlds with the largest variety of sharks in Germany with more than 20 different species and other changing theme worlds.

The Sea Life lures with some special offers - how about a candlelight dinner for two next to the panorama window, behind which fish leisurely swim by? A 3-course menu and an exclusive tour await lovers...

Olympia Tower - the tallest building in Munich

The tower stands on the grounds of the Olympic Park and houses the television tower , a revolving restaurant and the rock museum . Together with its antenna, it measures 291.28 meters , making it the second tallest building in Bavaria . 2,500 tons of steel and concrete were processed before the tower was opened in 1968 .

Two elevators go up to a height of 185 meters and take you over the roofs of the city at seven meters per second . When the weather is good, you can see as far as the Alps and an unbeatable view of the entire Isar metropolis of Munich from three viewing platforms at different heights.

Olympic Tower in the evening

Not open to the public, a 1230-step staircase leads up inside the tower. In the past, athletes were able to conquer the seemingly endless staircase at the Munich Olympic Tower Run.

Restaurant 181 is located under the visitor platform and - as the name suggests - is located at exactly 181 meters above sea level . Within 53 minutes it rotates around its own axis and offers a wonderful view of the Munich city panorama.

A special experience is the Olympic Tower in the evening hours:

The sight of the sunset over Munich

is pure romance .

Spiridon-Louis-Ring 21

80809 Munich

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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