At the moment that it was clear that Amsterdam could organize the Olympics of 1928 , they contracted Jan Wils to build a new stadium for 40,000 spectators. That the Games would go on Sunday as usual, and that sportswomen joined the Games, was for the Dutch government one step too far. The government refused a grant and they also refused Queen Wilhelmina to open the Games; Prince Hendrik, her husband, was asked to do the opening in her place. A spontaneous public fundraising among the Dutch population rescued the Olympics. Within a few weeks, the 1 million guilders for the construction of the stadium was gathered and the Stadium was realized anyway.
Nearly torn down 70 years later
Nearly seventy years later the Stadium was nominated to be torn down, for the building of 400 accommodations in the area. Many plans were made but also rejected, mainly on the reality level of the finances.
Again public fundraising was needed with the slogan “contribute your little gift ” for the missing 5 million to save the Olympic Stadium from demolition.
Driving force behind the preservation of the Olympic Stadium was the in 2009 deceased Piet Kranenberg , also known as “Piet Granite “; he got this nickname because of his persistence to realize his ambitions. Kranenberg found in Andre van Stigt the right man to take on this task. Van Stigt had already quite some experience with buildings that had to be saved from demolition.
The plan for the Olympic Stadium + 800 dwellings should yield for the city of Amsterdam as much as a plan for 1200 houses. Also “Bureau monumental care” had to agree , the budget had to be realistic and a “risk-market party” had to become customer.
Our office succeeded to make a plan in the architectural building as well as the financial part. An athletics stadium with A Status, approximately 40 business units in 12,000 m2 that fetch the operating costs and guarantee maintenance. In the SFB was found the recipient for the business units. During the construction period, it was decided that SFB, as (co) client, was permitted to construct a parking garage of 850 places underneath the Stadium.
The monument of 1928 , part of the “Amsterdamse School” was returned to the city, the concrete ring demolished, the gates open again with a free green shore, the front doors of the business units back on street level, and finally the Stadium as a result of the plan South of Berlage.
The functionalistic monument of J. Wils meets the requirements of today, but improvements are always possible. The project was and is of course constantly in focus, also in the environmental field:
the complete building meets the new requirements; an EPN of 0.93. It is equipped with a cogeneration power plant at the old scoreboard (for the Stadium and 800 houses) under floor heating in all units, special glass in the facade, high frequency fittings, water-saving measurements and a high level of internal isolation. Of course there are places where the monument requirements outstand the environmental, but a balanced mix has been created. Finally a ‘Stadium’ was realized that as a public domain is returned to the city. A unique monument through a unique combination of clients.
THE OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE, the museum
The Olympic Museum is the logical next step from the ambition to make the Stadium the public sports heart again. Due to financial restriction the museum started only in 1998. The marathon gate was the most logical place for the entrance of The Olympic Experience. A modest renovation of the spaces of the Foundation to make a fundamental change in character and possibilities of the everyday use of the stadium to the public. The Olympic Experience is a growth plan. Not only to exhibit history, but also to work up a sweat against the (virtual) stars in the atmosphere of the Olympic Stadium.
in April 2012 it was announced that Amsterdam was chosen to host the EK Athletics in 2016. A few months later, Amsterdam was appointed the first city for the Olympic Games of 2028. To actually get the Games, Amsterdam will cooperate with Rotterdam.
With these developments the attention will be on the Olympic Stadium again, that luckily was not torn down 12 years ago, but has become a lively centre in the Olympic Quartre.