August 11, 2016

Yabu Pushelberg’s Design for Canada Olympic House in Rio Teems with Country Pride

Hundreds of ribbons dangle from the ceiling to create a Canadian flag with a graphic edge. All photography courtesy of Yabu Pushelberg.

When Canadian design duo George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg—known for their Toronto and New York-based firm Yabu Pushelberg—were given a slim two-week time frame and a lean budget to design Canada Olympic House, what they came up with was a temporary rhapsodic living space born from a lucid Canadian point of view. With a modern design in tow, complete with the country’s signature bright red aesthetics leading the colorful palette, the designers infused a punchy, welcoming energy for Canadian athletes during this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “The design taps into the essence of what it means to be Canadian,” said Pushelberg. “It is open, honest, and progressive. This has been an energizing experience for our studio, bringing together an amazing group of collaborators to create a sense of home for Canadians in Rio during the Olympics.” 

The entrance to Canada Olympic House in Rio. 

From the residence’s Welcome Hall, to the Celebration Lounge and Samsung Honor Library, each distinctly designed room in the aquatic center-turned-dwelling has a unique function. Simple materials like exposed-edge plywood, metal, and soft textiles give the space an honest sophistication and graphic nature.

Bold red color, bright white vinyl, and a log reception desk create a beautiful synergy in the residence’s lobby. 

Furnishings provided by Canadian TireSaint-Damase Furniture, and Quality & Company are reconfigurable pieces that allow residents to truly make the quarters their own. The space also boasts artistic manifestations of Canadian icons and athletes through color, pattern, and fluid imagery throughout. For added effect, Yabu Pushelberg tapped Moss and Lam, a talented collective of Canadian artists and craftsmen to produce sculptural installations that animate and inspire through their transformative commentary and approach to materiality. “In collaboration with artists and artisans we’ve expressed Canada’s most forward-thinking qualities and hopefully engendered a sense of pride in all things Canadian: intelligence, artistic excellence, and an optimistic view of the future,” remarked Yabu.

Natural-colored plywood with red trim defines the lobby-adjacent Canadian Olympic Team Store.

Despite the project’s condensed time frame and limited financials, Canada Olympic House stands as an example of how tight parameters can still produce interiors with amplified creativity and heart. 

A curved staircase in the lobby leads to the second floor’s outdoor space clad with suspended Canadian-inspired rowing paddles.

The designers transformed a Rio aquatic center into Canada Olympic House in just two weeks. 

The Celebration Lounge serves as public gathering space for residents.

The Petro Canada Pantry is a casual place to grab a snack and relax. 

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