Yabu Pushelberg unveils designs for Canada Olympic House in Rio

On Thursday, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced its partnership with Toronto-based design firm Yabu Pushelberg. For the first time ever, the Canada Olympic House (COH) in Rio will be designed by a Canadian firm.

The design team, led by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, is working with the COC pro bono to support Team Canada in their pursuit of Olympic excellence and bringing its ‘comforting Canadiana’ concept to life. This was achieved through residentially-inspired spaces that are relaxed and welcoming. The transformation of simple, readily available objects into spectacular sculptural installations, paired with the repetition of honest materials and bold colour provide continuity within the interconnected rooms.

Main Entrance, Canada Olympic House | Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee
Main Entrance, Canada Olympic House | Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee

COH was made possible with the support of Team Canada’s corporate partners. Yabu Pushelberg collaborated early in the design phase with the COC’s partners to integrate them in a unique and authentic way. An example of this collaboration is with Canadian Tire Corporation. Canadian Tire and Sport Chek have provided product and furniture to make the space feel like home with some of the product being transformed into stunning design installations.

“The Canada Olympic House design is conceptually powerful and aims to represent all things Canadian with respect to excellence,” said Glenn Pushelberg, founder of Yabu Pushelberg. “We are a proudly Canadian company, fortunate to have the opportunity to work on interesting, inspiring projects around the globe, and this was an incredible chance for our studio to come together with an amazing group of partners, suppliers and collaborators to donate our time and skills.”

Welcome Hall, Canada Olympic House | Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee
Welcome Hall, Canada Olympic House | Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee

The home will also feature a series of artworks created by Canadian artist studio Moss and Lam. The studio is known for its large-scale artworks that integrate seamlessly with the interior design of a space. Moss and Lam worked with Yabu Pushelberg to develop a concept that will create a focal point for the COH and identify the host country to visitors – athletes and their families, Olympic delegates and special guests.

“We wanted to make art that would be uplifting and dynamic, that responded to the inherent energy of the Olympic Games,” said Deborah Moss, founder and principal of Moss and Lam. “We chose to work with traditional Canadian iconic images in a fresh way – Canada, our glorious red and white flag, canoes, paddles and maple leaves. We hope these familiar icons will express to our team our immense love and admiration so they know we’re behind them.”

Four separate works were created, including a suspended sculpture made of painted wooden paddles; a giant Olympic flag comprised of thousands of painted strips of canvas hanging in the celebration room; an installation of translucent canoes that sparkles with light, and an illuminated tree branch chandelier.

For works of this size, collaboration is essential. The team engaged students at Etobicoke School of the Arts to help fabricate the work – painting paddles and canvases and cutting and gluing thousands of strips of the material that comprises the giant Canadian flag, the focal point for the celebration room. Canadian Olympic team sponsor Canadian Tire donated the materials used to make the artwork including: over 200 paddles, canvases, paints, tools and packing materials. To see the making of the art installations, click here.

“People might think an artist is so very different from an athlete, but we recognize many similarities. As the athlete trains for hour upon hour to push their strength and endurance, the artist hones their craft in their chosen medium,” said Moss. “There is such a thing as innate talent, but success in either field is rooted in dedication and hard work. The ambition to win in sport or to express oneself through art both require unique determination and drive, whether working alone or as part of a team, to do your very best.”

COH is home at the Olympic Games for the loved ones of Canada’s Olympians. It serves as a haven for the family and friends of Canadian Olympic Team athletes, coaches, support staff, Mission Team members, partners and special guests. The idea behind COH in Rio is to create a patriotic oasis of “Canadiana” within the Olympic host city that can be a social hub for those linked with the Canadian Olympic Team – a comforting Canadian experience where memories are made.

Celebration Lounge, Canada Olympic House | Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee
Celebration Lounge, Canada Olympic House | Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee

At COH, guests will have access to a multitude of products, information, services and resources. Canada Olympic House operations will consist of the following:

  • Comfortable viewing areas for sport and medal celebrations and competitions, provided by Canadian Tire Corporation
  • High speed WIFI connectivity throughout COH & product specialists stationed in the Bell Lounge
  • Complimentary event tickets courtesy of the Petro-Canada Canadian Athlete Family Program
  • A Canadian Olympic Team Store with replica gear provided by Official Team Outfitter HBC, with products also available from adidas and Oakley
  • Interactive experiences and event programming from RBC, Deloitte and Samsung
  • Personal product bundles including favourite brands like Crest, Pantene, and Gillette for all Canadian athletes and support team from P&G
  • Snacks and beverages throughout the day, compliments of Molson Coors Canada, Mondelez, and General Mills
  • Competition information and news services presented by The Globe and Mail
  • Concierge desk presented by Hilton
  • Premium event space for government, National Sport Federation and partner events
  • Dedicated special events for athletes and their family and friends, including Opening and Closing Ceremony celebrations
  • COC corporate operations headquarters

With double the capacity of COH for London 2012, more than 20,000 visitors are expected to access the Rio 2016 COH over the course of the Games. COH is a private facility that requires pre-registration and accreditation for entry. Guests will need to pre-register online. Onsite, a team of access staff, security staff and volunteers will monitor traffic and access to COH.

COH will be located at AABB-Rio (Associação Atlética Banco do Brasil), Avenida Borges de Medeiros No. 829, Leblon, Rio de Janiero, Brazil.