3XN's olympic HQ in lausanne emulates the movements of an athlete

3XN's olympic HQ in lausanne emulates the movements of an athlete

in lausanne, switzerland, danish architecture firm 3XN has completed ‘olympic house’ — the new headquarters of the international olympic committee (IOC). the building unites 500 employees, who were previously spread across lausanne in four locations, under one roof at a single site. following the IOC’s brief, the project is formed around five key objectives: movement, transparency, flexibility, sustainability, and collaboration — each of which translates the olympic movement’s core principles into built form.

all images © adam mørk / international olympic committee (IOC)



after 3XN was selected to complete the project following an international competition, the danish practice teamed up with swiss firm IttenBrechbühl to oversee the construction. located next to the 18th-century castle château de vidy on the shores of lake geneva, ‘olympic house’ embraces its natural and historical setting while creating an architectural landmark for the local community.



‘it was the essence of the olympic movement and its values that served as the basis of inspiration for the design,’ explains kim herforth nielsen, co-founder and principal of 3XN. ‘the olympic house seeks to establish a quality working environment that brings together all the IOC staff under one roof. our design prioritizes transparency and flow to facilitate and encourage interaction, communication and knowledge sharing, and to create a highly efficient and sustainable workspace.’



externally, the building’s distinctive façade pays tribute to the olympic spirit by emulating the graceful movements of an athlete. the dynamic, undulating flow of the façade appears differently from all angles, conveying the energy of an athlete in motion. in sports, movement leads to optimized performance; likewise, the formal manipulations of the building’s envelope have a direct effect on how it functions.



‘the design allows the daily work and movements of the IOC staff to be visible through the transparent façade, reflecting the fair play and openness of the IOC,’ says jan ammundsen, partner and head of design at 3XN. the design sees transparency become an important metaphor for the olympic movement’s responsibility, and the operation of the IOC as a global organization that promotes the values of respect, friendship, and excellence.



internally, the unity staircase, which references the iconic olympic rings, soars the full height of the building and connects the five floors through a central atrium. following the principles of active design, the oak staircase and its periphery define the central area for social activity and movement, promoting a sense of community. exhibition spaces, a cafeteria and meeting rooms are also arranged around the central staircase, promoting a sense of community for the 500 regular users.



heralded as ‘one of the most sustainable buildings in the world’, olympic house was built with the ambition to meet the most demanding sustainability standards — both locally and internationally. it has been designed as a sustainable building in terms of both construction and operations, with special efforts put into energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, and landscape integration.



the building’s envelope allows excellent insulation through air-tightness and the triple glazing on the internal skin of the façade. water efficient sanitary equipment and rainwater capture significantly reduce the building’s water consumption, while solar panels placed to underline the roof design, minimize the need for electricity from the grid. another important sustainability feature is the use of lake water through heat exchange for the heating and cooling of the building. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.



UPDATE: this project has been shortlisted in the ‘completed buildings – office’ category and for the ‘best use of natural light prize’ at the 2019 world architecture festival.



project info:


name: olympic house
location: lausanne, switzerland
client: international olympic committee
design architects: 3XN architects
local architects: IttenBrechbühl
landscape architects: hüsler & associés
interior design and work space planning: RBSGROUP
architectural lighting design: jesper kongshaug
kitchen specialist: SCHÉMA-TEC
civil engineer: INGENI SA – ingenierie structurale
HVAC: weinmann-energies SA
electrical engineers: MAB-ingenierie SA
façade engineers: emmer pfenninger partner AG
sustainability engineers: themaverde
acoustician: d’silence acoustique
fire expert AEAI: ignis salutem SA

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