Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo, Norway by JDS Architects, 2011

On the cover of JDS Architects' monograph Agenda is a collage that features the Eiffel Tower; well, more accurately a leaning Tower of Eiffel. This form is certainly meant to refer to Julien de Smedt's design for the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, the host of the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships; the leaning cantilever and the curves seem to follow the Parisian tower's lead. Inside the book the project is given more ink than any other project, or at least it appears that way interspersed throughout. Needless to say, the project is a very important one for the architects, and it has the potential to give Smedt a prominence like his old partner Bjarke Ingels.

The current jump is not the first incarnation for this hill in Holmenkollen, a small village twenty minutes from Oslo. As far back as 1892 the village has hosted competitions, but it was determined in 2005 by the International Ski Federation that the hill would not meet the standards for this year's FIS Championships. Like golf, distances have grown with technological advances as have crowds with the sport's popularity. So the subsequent demolition of the old jump paved the way for JDSA's competition-winning design.

A few years before the decision to build a new jump, Europe saw the construction of Zaha Hadid's Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria. Part tower, part curving bridge, the design is notable for its striking form but also for the way it elevates the café over the ski jump, literally and figuratively. In Holmenkollen, these sorts of ancillary functions must also be accommodated, yet their approach is different: "The judges booths, the commentators, the trainers, the royal family, the VIPs, the wind screens, the circulations, the lobby, the entrance to the arena and the arena itself, the lounge for the skiers, the souvenir shop, the access to the existing museum, the viewing public square at the very top, everything, is contained into the shape of the jump."

The aluminum-clad jump rises 58 meters (190 feet) above the hill, with an impressive 69-meter (225-foot) cantilever, but a glance at the section and axon below illustrates that this section is only one-third of the project. There is the splayed legs of the tower and the bowl that houses the seating and the landing strip for the jumpers. Or to put it another way the project is impressive, but not necessarily because of the cantilever; it is a major integration of landscape and iconic form where the cantilever is just the tip of the iceberg.