Olimpiiska – One of Kyiv’s most intriguing metro stations

Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: Rasal Hague, CC BY-SA 4.0

Introduction

The Olimpiiska Station, located in Kyiv, Ukraine, stands in the same spot as the former Ploshchad Lev Tolstoy station.

It is a part of the third section of the Kurenevsko-Krasnoarmeyskaya line and was launched just 12 months after the commissioning of the second section. Most of the stations that were built on the Obolon radius bore typically the same design, but this was not the case with Olimpiiska.

Wall relief on the track wall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Wall relief on the track wall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

The history

The approval for the construction of the first stage of the railway line that ran from Orekhovatskaya Ploshchad station to Kontraktovaya Ploshchad station was granted in November 1969. Actual work began in 1970. The second phase was scheduled for completion in 1978, but a change in plan would push the dates further out.

The opening date, December 29, 1981, is dedicated to the anniversary of Leonid Brezhnev, who ruled the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the governing Communist Party for 18 years, second only to Joseph Stalin’s in duration.

From completion to around 2011, the Olimpiiska was known as the “Republican Stadium” as a result of influence from the nearby stadium. The name of the stadium after 1996 was officially known as “Olympic.”

Decorative grid in the underground lobby in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Decorative grid in the underground lobby in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

Subsequent renovations have been done severally on the stadium to bring it up to international standards; the first one happened between 1997 and 1999. In the renovation work leading up to the UEFA EURO 2012, the capacity of the stadium was significantly reduced1.

The need to construct a stadium of this magnitude in Kyiv stems from the wave of massive sports development witnessed around football in the 20th century. With every project to upgrade the stadium, the solution comprises a series of artwork and alteration of design features to enhance both appeal and functionality.

Olimpiiska metro station, Kyiv, Ukraine
Olimpiiska metro station, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

The station is in a rather dire state. For many years, constant exposure to moisture and groundwater salts have ruined the precious marble. Netizens have reported leaks2 caused by snow and rain.

In order to fix and waterproof the walls, some parts of the marble got painted in gray paint. This has been widely discussed3; some defend the action by pointing out that the marble had already been significantly damaged and lost its structure. Kyiv Metro has not commented on the situation in any way.

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Station design

The Olimpiyskaya station comprises three underground halls, all interconnected with tunnel passages. Another way to get to the underground vestibule, which is connected to an underground passageway right under Krasnoarmeiskaya Street, from the middle hall, is through an escalator.

In areas where there are no passages, the connection has been facilitated by pylons that support the vaults of the halls. Considering the fact that the subway station lies about 30 meters below the ground level, the sizes of the pylons have been narrowed to make room for more passages and create an overall sense of open space.

This design concept was executed by architects Anatoly Krushinsky and Tamara Tselikovskaya in collaboration with sculptor Alexander Milovzorov4.

Pylons in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Pylons in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

The walls within which the track is laid have a gray marble lining, same as the pylons’ surfaces, while that of the floor is dark granite, contrasting with the bright white ceiling. At the center of the ceiling and in a straight line is a series of rounded chandeliers made from chromed metal. Before this current look, the chandeliers were made from various shades of white glass.

Olimpiiska metro station, Kyiv, Ukraine
Olimpiiska metro station, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0
Chandelier in the central hall of the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Chandelier in the central hall of the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

On the platforms are light lamps made from the same materials the pylons are made out of. It is easy for a keen observer to notice that the ceiling pattern has not been upheld in the side halls. The chandeliers in these sections were removed due to strong swaying occasioned by moving trains.

Boarding platform in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Boarding platform in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

By choosing to establish a station next to a sports venue, the central stadium, the city planners determined the theme by which the construction would be designed.

At the end of the middle hall is an unusual decoration; a three-dimensional mosaic composition depicts the Olympic flame, complete with rings. This feature was incorporated into the station a while after it had been opened. Composed of red and blue smalt, it contrasts with the dark finish of the station. A ceramic panel in the cash hall embodies the Olympic spirit through football and hockey players.

Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0
Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0
Ice hockey-themed bas-relief in the ticket hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine
Ice hockey-themed bas-relief in the ticket hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine, photo: © AMY, CC BY-SA 3.0

Art in subway stations

Art in Ukraine

Architecture in Ukraine

Footnotes

  1. https://www.mirmetro.net/kyiv/cruise/02/19_olimpijska
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BaKQR9Ph4M
  3. https://bzh.life/ua/gorod/foto-na-stancziyi-metro-olimpijska-marmur-na-stinah-zamalyuvali-farboyu/
  4. http://metro.kyiv.ua/node/172

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