Kim Herforth Nielsen | impressions

3XN Architects

World Architecture Festival 2018 | Prominent features of the project

One of the strong points is that the essence of the olympic philosophy and its values served as the basis of inspiration for the design. 3XN designed the Olympic House around four key objectives: sustainability, movement, transparency, and flexibility. The transparency and flow of the design is intended to facilitate and encourage interaction, communication and knowledge sharing among the staff. A hallmark of 3XN’s design, the facade pays tribute to the olympic spirit by emulating the graceful movements of an athlete. The dynamic, undulating flow of the facade looks different from all angles, which conveys the energy of an athlete in motion. In sports, movement leads to optimized performance; likewise, the formal manipulations of the building envelope have a direct effect on the building’s functioning. The Unity Staircase, which references Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s olympic rings, soars the full height of the building and connects all floors in a central atrium. The staircase is a visual expression of staff and stakeholder unity and the olympic values. The staircase and its periphery form the central area for social activity and promote a sense of community and transparency. The visual transparency of the facade also serves as a metaphor for the open organization of the IOC. By allowing the inhabitant’s daily work to be visible, the design reflects the fair play and open values of the IOC. Sustainability is a key value and component of the building and it will become the most sustainable office building in Switzerland.

I think the dedication and consistent insistence on translating the values of the IOC to be reflected in the building design played an important part in distinguishing this project from the rest of the great projects. Every decision we made was evaluated for its applicability to the primary goals of the IOC. I also believe that the extremely high complexity of the building using advanced parametric design to create the movement of the shape helped us to win. Having such high ambitions for creating a truly sustainable office building is also a complex and demanding task, that could have been decisive.


I have attended almost every WAF over the years. I think it is a great place to find inspiration and meet with other architects. It is an important event where you get the opportunity to discuss relevant and current issues within architecture. I appreciate the thoughtful and interesting debates; however, I think the format could be even better if WAF considered inviting relevant people other than architects to join the panel debates. If they would invite politicians, planners, clients and users it would add a more varied perspective to the debates. I found the round table dinner very interesting because it allowed different views to be uttered. This is a very good format that perhaps could be transformed to fit a greater audience. I’m a member of the Van Alen Institute who has hosted a number of highly successful panel discussions with up to ten people. This would also be an opportunity to have greater audience participation.

I think it is important to make sure that projects are judged on the same grounds. It is sometimes difficult to compare highly complex buildings with more simple structures just because they are entered into the same category. Maybe you could publish the criteria for the assessment of each category in advance to allow both the jury and the contestants to know the basis of the judgement before selecting which category to enter. I would appreciate if they had the same number of categories for future as for finished projects.