A tailor-made roofing solution for the João Havelange Olympic Stadium

Built for the Pan-American Games of 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, the João Havelange Olympic Stadium is characterised by its iconic roof consisting of four metallic arches that are supported by external concrete columns. The ArcelorMittal company Perfilor supplied profiled roofing sheets that were created specifically for the requirements of this project.

Detailed information

When Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2007 Pan-American Games in 2002, the architects Carlos Porto, Geraldo Lopes, Gilson Santos, and José R. Ferreira Gomes proposed a stadium design with an initial capacity for 45 000 spectators and the possibility of extending this by a further 15 000 seats; thus, increasing the seating capacity to 60 000. The 200 000 m² plot selected as its location is situated in front of the Engenho de Dentro train station, which housed former railway maintenance buildings in the neighbourhood by the same name, close to the Yellow Line expressway. The development of this project triggered a a process of urban transformation and large-scale renovation in the region.

Stadium & installations

The João Havelange Municipal Olympic Stadium is a multifunctional stadium in an oval shape whose axes measure 284 m and 232 m without the set of external ramps. It has a suspended metallic roof that spans a set of four huge tubular steel arches with a 2m diameter that covers all seating areas.

It was designed on six main levels with an adjoining administrative building containing rooms that support its various functions and a split-level garage - the roof of which is used as an outdoor warm-up area for athletes. The stadium's facilities meet the strictest international regulations on safety and comfort for high-level competitions.

The constructed areas thus come to a total of 182 000 m² and the projection of the stadium with its annexes occupies approximately 47% of the area of the plot that lies between the streets Arquias Cordeiro, José dos Reis, Dr. Padilha, and das Oficinas, where it is located.

Architectural concept

The architects combined the four immense white arches in a single building with the gentle and elegant waves of its roof and the slender structure of the concrete porticos that support the stands and spectator transit areas. The playful, rhythmic repetition in the irregular arches of the João Havelange Olympic Stadium, which are its unmistakeable hallmark, are clear exponents of the plastic association of creative will and the mathematical rigour of structural calculation, which materialised in this stadium.

This stadium mirrors the deep significance of sport in Brazilian culture and is the reflection of a vocation that is very strong and intrinsic to the people of city Rio de Janeiro. The tradition of celebrating in open spaces, in the streets and on the squares, with the music, spontaneity, enthusiasm, and passion with which Brazilians know how to commemorate their greatest sporting events are reflected here.

The iconic steel roof

The stadium's roof is formed from four large tubular steel arches that support 42 truss elements with 50 m length by means of suspension cables. The roof deck was made to order with profiled steel sheet fabricated by Perfilor of the ArcelorMittal group, while the thermal insulation and thermoplastic membrane were provided by Firestone.

The technical specifications for the project, its tight schedule, and the expected costs were the main reasons for choosing this solution offered by Perfilor. This ArcelorMittal company created a specific profiled steel sheet (39S) to comply with the specific requirements for this project and to support the Firestone roofing system.

The solution obtained with the metallic deck and the membrane played a very important role in the project as it guaranteed flexibility and reduced installation time and the absorption of the accommodation, adapting to the oscillations in the assembly of the structure, which was carried out on a simultaneous basis. The structure that supports the roof of the stadium is composed of more than sixty thousand different parts that only acquire stability after assembly is complete.

The project for the stadium roof scooped the top prize in the category "Small Works and Special Structures" in the V Structural Engineering Talent Awards promoted by the Brazilian Association of Engineering and Special Consultancy, ABECE, in 2007.

The calculations and studies on typology, materials, analysis of the action of the winds, and structural behaviour for the project were coordinated by the engineer Flávio D'Alambert, who received the award.

Project information

  • Rio de Janeiro RJ
  • Brazil
  • Architect:
    Carlos Porto, Geraldo Lopes, Gilson Santos e José Raymundo Gomes
    Ellerbe Becket Inc., Kansas City EUA
  • 2007
  • Client:
    Prefeitura Municipal do Rio de Janeiro
  • Engineering Firm:
    Bruno Contarini, Cesar Pereira Lopes, Waldir Mello, José Eduardo Queiroz and Nivaldo Santos
    Roof: Flavio D´Alembert, Jefferson Andrade and Tiago Abecasis
  • Contractor:
    Racional, Delta e Recoma and Odebrecht e Oas
  • Photographer:
    My Zoom
  • Text:
    C. Porto, G. Lopes, G. Santos and J.R. Gomes & Constructalia