Rio - An Olympic Vision

Private Property South Africa

The 2012 Olympics are almost upon us and will undoubtedly prove an event to remember. But what of future games? A whimsical design put forward in 2009 for Brazil’s 2016 games has attracted widespread attention and if built, could trump anything previous Olympic hosts have ever offered.

It must be noted that although many have touted the project as being confirmed, it has seemingly still not progressed past the proposal stage and it is unclear if the project will actually ever come into being. The images depicted are artist’s impressions of what the tower would look like if ever constructed. The design is the brainchild of Zurich based architecture and design studio RAFAA. Named the Solar City Tower, the structure would essentially serve as a multi-purpose ‘welcome sign’ for the Olympics. It has been illustrated as occupying a position on top of the island of Cotonduba.

According to RAFAA, the tower would consist of a solar power plant which would produce energy for Rio’s Olympic village and part of Rio during the daytime. Excess energy would be used to suck up seawater into the tower which in turn would be released again as a waterfall to drive electricity generating turbines. The electricity produced could be used to light the tower by night.

RAFAA explains that visitors would be gain access to the tower via an amphitheatre situated on the ground floor. This area would also serve as a social gathering point. Once inside, elevators would transport visitors between the tower’s various levels.

As per the design, a cafeteria and boutique shops are indicated as being located beneath the tower’s waterfall. Visitors would also theoretically be able to access the tower’s observation decks and the ‘urban balcony’ situated 105 meters above sea level where they could enjoy 360º views while walking across the tower’s glass ‘skywalk’. The tower’s administrative offices are designed in such a way that they could be accessed via the tower’s foyer. An auditorium and retractable platform which would be used for bungee jumping has also been incorporated into the design. Impressively, the tower would also serve as a ‘torch’ for the Olympic flame.

RAFAA’s concept behind the tower as follows: “The aim of this project is to ask how the classic concept of a landmark can be reconsidered. It is less about an expressive, iconic, architectural form; rather, it is a return to content and actual, real challenges for the imminent post-oil era. This project represents a message of a society facing the future; thus it is the representation of an inner attitude. Our project shall provide energy both to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its citizens while using natural resources. We hope to attain an international Olympic message with political appeal. After hosting the United Nation’s Earth Summit in 1992, Rio de Janeiro will once again be the starting point for a global green movement and sustainable development of urban structures. [The tower] could perhaps even become a symbol for the first zero carbon Olympic Games.”

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