Stockholm Olympic Stadium

It was Victor Balck - the father of Swedish sports...

... who through his determined appearance in the International Olympic Committee, secured the fifth Olympic Games in 1912 to Sweden and Stockholm. When the decision finally was made, it was up to the only existing national organization in sports - Sveriges Centralförening för Idrottens Främjande - to build a main arena for the Games, to secure an experienced architect and to choose a suitable place for the future Olympic stadium. The choice was a young successful architect, Torben Grut. Raised in a small country-house in Västergötland, but with Danish parents.

Grut also designed the many stylistical figures on the patterned brick-built facades, the dial on Klocktornet, the fence that surrounds the grounds, both walrus heads by the towerbases and the sculptures by Ask and Embla, (the first human beings in Nordic mythology), that adorns Klocktornet. In addition, he thought the stadium should be adorned by about eighty sculptures in stone and had granite blocks built into the outside facades.

There was hesitation between several possible sites: Friesens park on the south part of Djurgården, areas on Lidingö and in Råsunda, Ladugårdsgärde and a reconstruction of the few years old Östermalm's sports field, just north of Valhallavägen. But at this particular place, the committees for Djursholm's and Lidingö's tracks had plans to construct a joint station. The next best place was choosen, Idrottsparken, built in 1895/96 in close vicinity north of Valhallavägen between Lidingövägen (then Sturevägen) and Drottning Sophias väg. The space between the three streets and the northern ridge was just enough for a stadium with a fourhundred meter track, enclosed by stands.

The main arenas that had been built for the Olympic Games in Paris 1900, S:t Louis 1904 and London 1908 had been temporary structures that were torn down after the Games. Initially, the plan in Stockholm was something similar, a temporary wooden structure, to the cost of 300 000 Swedish crowns and financed with a nationwide lottery arranged by Centralföreningen. But the plans were changed and Grut was commissioned by the association to create a permanent stadium, built in cement, stone and brick.

Grut gave the building the shape of a magnet with the legs resting towards the northern hill. It was completed by two tall crenelated towers and with a beautiful arcade in the curve towards Valhallavägen, inspired by the Colosseum in Rome. The open space between ValhallavŠgen and the building would become a beautiful wooded park The building materials were to be Swedish. The base by Vätögranit and handmade facing brick from Helsingborgs Ängtegelfabriks AB. (400 000 bricks). The construction company Kreuger & Toll was commissioned and the cost of erection was slightly more than 1 300 000 SEK.

The Stockholm Olympic Stadium founded a school for similar structures in other countries and has been a building monument since the beginning of the 1990's. The North Stand, between the two towers, is entirely rebuilt and in addition to up-to-date dressing rooms etc, houses the large Torben Grutsalen. The Olympic Games were a huge success, not least when it came to organization and Sweden was the best nation in points scored. In spite of a record breaking rainy summer, the Games were blessed by glorious weather. Stockholms Stadion still has the world record in world records in athletics with 83.