An Achievement Of Olympic Proportions - Wacker Chemie AG

An Achievement Of Olympic Proportions

Light and transparent

The attraction of this residential complex lies in its smaller row houses that serve as student accommodation and its stepped apartment buildings featuring large south-facing balconies.

With their light, airy and, in the case of the Olympic Stadium, sweeping architecture, Munich’s Olympic venues were designed to symbolize “cheerful games,” according to Willi Daume, the then head of the German Olympic Committee. As the only summer games held to date in postwar Germany, the event aimed to show the world a new, friendly, cosmopolitan face. The organization of the games was pursued as a collective national effort and was enthusiastically supported by virtually all Munich’s citizens.

Karl-Heinz Kranz was one of the many thousands of specialists who helped build the completely new Olympic complex in the north of Munich – quite literally from the ground up – in less than five years. His job was to renovate a load-bearing pillar in which holes and cracks had been discovered. Given the Olympic construction site management’s instructions forbidding repair work, the project had to be kept secret. Indeed, management had already issued orders to tear down and rebuild one faulty concrete wall. “A three-month delay and several hundred thousand marks were riding on that pillar,” Kranz recalls.

“This is so good, it’s almost better than the concrete itself.”

Smoothing compounds to the rescue

The color scheme for the Olympic buildings was created by the renowned Munich designer Otl Aicher, who was lead designer during the 1972 Olympics.

The Ardex specialist was flown in, and once on site he turned to Arducret B12, a cementbased concrete filler that he himself had helped develop at Ardex and which had been available for only a few months. The product contained a dispersible polymer powder made from vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) copolymer, which WACKER had likewise only recently begun producing.

“The VAE copolymer in the mortar acts as a second, flexible binder in addition to the rigid cement,” explains Dr. Peter Fritze, who heads a WACKER applications laboratory for construction polymers. It improves both the cohesion and flexibility of this specialty mortar, he notes, and the polymer modification also reduces the amount of water needed for the filler, which, in turn, reduces shrinkage. “Thanks to these improved properties, the filler is able to repair defects in the concrete permanently,” the WACKER chemist stresses.

The light, airy architecture of the Olympic buildings, like the swimming pool, for example, were intended to create a pleasant atmosphere.

In the early 1970s, polymer-modified concrete fillers were still uncharted territory. Nevertheless, Kranz got down to work. “Even though atmospheric conditions and the sun were on my side, it was evening by the time I made it down to the support. I was just making my final pass with the trowel when someone hissed: ‘Get away from the pillar – site management’s coming!’