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Rio's Plan to Transform Its Arenas After the Olympics

Using what Mayor Eduardo Paes calls “nomadic architecture,” the city plans to dismantle one of its arenas and turn it into schools.
The 12,000-seat Future Arena will host the Olympic handball and the Paralympic goalball games.
The 12,000-seat Future Arena will host the Olympic handball and the Paralympic goalball games.Robb Williamson/AECOM

After August 21, the medals will have all been won. The excitement will die down and the crowds will disperse as the 2016 Olympics draws to a close. And if history is any indication, Rio’s Olympic venues, once filled with the finest of athletes and most passionate of fans, could lie dormant.

That’s been the case for most host cities. Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium racks up $11 million in maintenance fees each year, despite sitting virtually empty. The venues for the 2004 games in Athens have become aging reminders of money that could have been better spent. But Rio, determined to leave behind a more successful and sustainable legacy, plans to make some of its venues transformable through what the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, calls “nomadic architecture.”

Rio’s Future Arena, which hosts the Olympic handball and the Paralympic goalball games, will be repurposed into four state-run schools in the nearby neighborhoods of Jacarepagua and Barra, and in São Cristóvão on the eastern coast. Each school will hold 500 students. The arena was designed to be dual-purpose from the get-go, says Manuel Nogueira, the managing director of AndArchitect, the U.K. firm behind the design. “The way everything gets moved from place to another is a bit like Lego,” he adds.