A new era for the Helsinki Olympic Stadium

We are carrying out complex excavations under the Olympic Stadium as part of a project to update this historic site into a multipurpose arena for major international events.

“The Helsinki Olympic Stadium represents Functionalism and is considered to be the most beautiful sports stadium in the world,” says Maija Innanen, Managing Director of the Stadium Foundation.

Maija Innanen

In the picture: Maija Innanen, Managing Director of the Stadium Foundation.

Designed by architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti, the building was completed in 1938 for the 1940 Summer Olympics. The Olympics were cancelled because of the war, but Helsinki won the bid for the 1952 Summer Olympics.

“In early 2009, we decided to carry out a condition survey, as we discovered water damage practically every week. The concrete was in good condition for the most part, but the technical building systems needed replacing.”

The Stadium Foundation considered carefully whether it would be enough to just upgrade the technical building systems. They eventually decided to thoroughly renovate the entire stadium.

“The renovation project would have been costly in any case, but basic renovation would not have had significant benefits. The stadium was built decades ago and no longer met modern criteria,” says Innanen.

Extensive renovation

The renovation project will be completed in 2019, with a budget of EUR 209 million. The cost of construction is being shared equally between the state and the City of Helsinki. The Stadium Foundation will contribute around EUR 7 million to equipment for the stadium. The funding needed to be found so that the historic site could remain in operation.

“Unlike modern stadiums, the Helsinki Olympic Stadium doesn’t have a circular route around it. According to the rules of the UEFA and FIFA, the teams must not meet one another on their way to the field in a football match. Such an arrangement was not possible here. In addition, the service points for the public were insufficient, as were the public toilet facilities,” says Innanen.

Helsinki Olympic Stadion

We are now building 2,500 square metres of toilet facilities. The service and refreshment points will have six times their current capacity. You will be able to buy a grilled sausage during half-time, and you will even have time to eat it.

“After the renovation project has been completed, people will also be able to walk around the stadium. We will update the logistical solutions in line with the requirements of international sports federations,” Innanen explains.

Complex excavation

The first phase of the three-year project started in March 2016. Lemminkäinen is serving as the main contractor for earthworks and is excavating more space for maintenance facilities and access routes.

Miro Harjumäki

In the picture: Miro Harjumäki, Project Engineer, Lemminkäinen.

“This is a complex excavation project. Some of the blasting and excavation work will be carried out under existing indoor structures,” says Miro Harjumäki, Project Engineer at Lemminkäinen.

Until the end of the year, Lemminkäinen will be transporting around 130 truckloads of rock away from the site every day. We will cut around 60,000 solid cubic metres of earth and excavate around 145,000 solid cubic metres. Excavation work under existing structures calls for a high level of accuracy.

“When we encounter an old pillar, we will support it and excavate under it until we reach the desired depth. Then we will extend the pillar and dismantle the temporary supports. There are some 40 pillars, which means a great deal of work requiring precision,” says Harjumäki.

Usage is the best form of protection

Since 2006, the Olympic Stadium has been a site protected by the National Board of Antiquities. Maija Innanen has only good things to say about the cooperation.

“We have discussed a lot and agreed on issues without problems along the way. The stadium exemplifies the slogan about usage being the best form of protection,” says Innanen.

She envisions the renovated stadium as a modern multipurpose arena that is suitable for the conditions in Finland and annually attracts one million visitors, who will enjoy themselves even more than before. After renovation, the stadium will have the capacity to compete for major international sports events and concerts.