An athletes centre or Olympic village is the accommodation facility established for the Olympic games within the Olympic Park or anywhere in the host city. These spaces are extremely secure and only the athlete, trainers are allowed to use them. The design and construction of these Olympic villages are extremely prestigious for architects. Currently, Tokyo is hosting the Summer Olympics scheduled for 2020, which had to be shifted due to the pandemic. The 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games will be held in Beijing

The 2026 winter Olympics will take place in Italy. The construction of the Olympic village is crucial and hence, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill ( SOM ) will be designing the village. It is due to be completed by July 2025. 

Athletes village in Porta Romana for the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games to be designed by SOM Sheet1
Aerial view of the proposal_©SOM

Inspiration Behind The Design | Athletes village

The main inspiration behind the work and the concept was the ancient, medieval architecture of Milan. To continue and support a low carbon footprint, contemporary and local materials will be utilized. Like the ancient architecture in Milan and the whole of Italy, immense importance to public spaces, public life and streetscape will be seen. Communal terraces shaded by vertical planting will connect the blocks and provide gathering spaces for occupants. 

Partners For The Project

The partners of the project are: Milano-Cortina Foundation, the Lombardy region, Olympic Village and the Municipality. They will strive to create a more sustainable and inclusive environment during the time of games and offer new services once the games are over. The village will have a minimal environmental impact due to innovation, sustainability features and NZEB requirements. 

About SOM and the project | Athletes village

Athletes village in Porta Romana for the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games to be designed by SOM Sheet2
SOM’s profitable proposal for the Olympic Village at Milan’s Porta Romana_©www.perkinho.comwp-phprodpost20210813som-to-design-athletes-village-in-porta-romana-for-the-2026-milano-cortina-winter-games

SOM, the architecture firm of Burj Khalifa, is appointed to design the village with minimal environmental impact as a part of the updated Porta Romana railway yard masterplan, after winning a competition that involved 71 studios from 9 countries. The Milan Cortina Olympic village had presented a great opportunity to create a sustainable, self-sufficient and green community for the athletes at the centre of the district. One of the most striking features is how the space will function post Olympic. The Italian developers and partners Covivio and Prada Holding have released the plans for the proposal. 

The railway yard site was purchased by the companies for a whooping €180 million (£156 million/$215 million) in November 2020 and the firm is tasked to create a nearly zero energy building requirement (NZEB) village. 

Proposal for the Olympic Village

Athletes village in Porta Romana for the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games to be designed by SOM Sheet3
Outdoor areas surrounded by retailers and eating places will create public areas after the video games are ove_© www.perkinho.comwp-phprodpost20210813som-to-design-athletes-village-in-porta-romana-for-the-2026-milano-cortina-

The site spans 60,000 square metres and is based in the SW quadrant of the railway yard in southern Milan. For the proposal, SOM has included the transformation of two historic structures and creating six new timber buildings. One major concern was about the usage of the village after the games and the firm decided to transform the area to affordable housing and student accommodation later.

Another important area of focus is public space. The public space will be encircled by shops, bars, restaurants, games and cafes at street level. At the community level, there are proposals for various markets and events. The main focus is to bring the people together and have a good time. Emphasis will also be centred on parks, play areas, gardens and suspended garden connecting spaces. The firm revealed how the village adopts the rhythm of the streetscape with numerous public spaces that will enhance Milan. This village will become an integral part of the fabric of Milan.

Plans for the site are encompassed by the broader Parco Romana project that will see a residential neighbourhood around a large urban park developed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP and Carlo Ratti Associati. The master plan was revised to increase the public engagement process, to make the areas accessible to the public and work for the connectivity of these.

Future Of The Village After The Olympics End

<span style="font-weight: 400;">Housing for Olympic and Paralympic athletes will likely be related by bridges shaded with vertical planting_© </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">www.perkinho.comwp-phprodpost20210813som-to-design-athletes-village-in-porta-romana-for-the-2026-milano-cortina-wint</span>
Housing for Olympic and Paralympic athletes will likely be related by bridges shaded with vertical planting_© www.perkinho.comwp-phprodpost20210813som-to-design-athletes-village-in-porta-romana-for-the-2026-milano-cortina-wint

The Porta Romana Village will continue to be a vibrant, self-sustaining, sustainable neighborhood for the needful and the students even after the games. It will continue to strive for the wellness, environmental progress and betterment of the people. The athletes home will be used for student housing; the park and the railway side building will be utilized for affordable housing; the plaza will become a vibrant public space for cafes, bars, markets, restaurants and parks.

Sustainable Practices | Athletes village

<span style="font-weight: 400;">The proposal additionally contains the renovation of current industrial buildings_©</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">www.perkinho.comwp-phprodpost20210813som-to-design-athletes-village-in-porta-romana-for-the-2026-milano-cortina-winter-games</span>
The proposal additionally contains the renovation of current industrial buildings_©www.perkinho.comwp-phprodpost20210813som-to-design-athletes-village-in-porta-romana-for-the-2026-milano-cortina-winter-games

As the main goal of the project was to promote environmental sensitivity and sustainability, numerous practices will be followed. There will be a passive cooling strategy, roof gardens, use of solar panels for clean electricity, recycled stormwater system, rainwater harvesting, urban farming and others that will help to produce 30% of the energy required for the project. The entire village will strive to be a self-sustained, smart and sustainable city. The collected stormwater will be reused which will cause a reduction in the use of drinking water by 50% and CO2 by 40%. The use of sustainable material will be seen throughout with less carbon footprint.

With a great eye for design, innovation and technology integrated with sustainability and environmental concern, this Olympic village will be nothing but a treat. We will have a lot to learn from the project and hope to see such sustainable projects everywhere in the future as well. 


SOM website

Italy Architecture News, Aug 10, 2021. SOM Selected To Design Olympic Village In Porta Romana For 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics Accessed – 18/ 8/ 21

Patrick Burke, 17th July 2021. Plans unveiled for 2026 Winter Olympics Village in Milan Accessed – 19/ 8/ 21

August 13, 2021. SOM to design athletes’ village in Porta Romana for the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games Accessed – 20/8/ 21

Dan Howarth, 5 August 2021. SOM to design athletes’ village in Porta Romana for the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games Accessed- 18/8/21


A keen observer and nature enthusiast, Pranita is a final year architecture student. She believes architects need to be empathic and compassionate to acknowledge users’ obstacles and comfort. She relishes reading about urban design, art, aesthetics, spaces, people, countries, culture and craves to learn more. Barring this, she squanders her time overthinking and anticipating the worst aftermath.