The High Design Behind Canada’s Olympic House

The High Design Behind Canada’s Olympic House

The contemporary styling and 'Comforting Canadiana' concept enables the team to feel at home in Rio

Craig Davis
  • 9 august 2016

For the first time in its history, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) selected a design company to conceptualize and decorate its official Olympic House. Toronto’s Yabu Pushelberg (YP), named after lead designers George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, worked pro bono with Team Canada to ensure the athletes and their families would be able to enjoy a calm, comforting, distraction-free home-away-from-home for the duration of the 2016 Rio Olympics.


To accomplish its desired design aesthetic, YP collaborated with some of Canada’s leading companies and corporate sponsors to create an accommodating and authentic space. Furniture was sourced from the Canadian Tire Canvas Collection, Hudson’s Bay Company lent their famous striped fabric for the drapes, and Canadian artist studio Moss and Lam crafted four large-scale sculpted works based on well-known national symbols.

“We chose to work with traditional Canadian iconic images in a fresh way—Canada, our glorious red and white flag, canoes, paddles and maple leaves,” Moss and Lam founder Deborah Moss told Canadian Architect.  “We hope these familiar icons will express to our team our immense love and admiration so they know we’re behind them.”

olympic house

As the Olympic House serves as an oasis for not just the athletes, but coaches, family and friends as well, it is of the utmost importance that the space is both welcoming and all-encompassing of any want or need a guest might have. Amongst the various features addressing these needs: a log cabin-inspired team store; a peaceful, secluded athletes lounge; a Samsung-sponsored library; multiple viewing rooms stocked with big-screen TVs and pantries; and a faux-Canadian backyard on the second-floor terrace, lined with lush (though artificial) grass. The house also serves as headquarters for the COC, with additional upscale areas for government officials and event partners.

“We are a proudly Canadian company, fortunate to have the opportunity to work on interesting, inspiring projects around the globe,” said Glenn Pushelberg. “This was an incredible chance for our studio to come together with an amazing group of partners, suppliers and collaborators to donate our time and skills.”

The 20,000 square-foot house—the largest Canada has ever occupied—came together in less than two weeks. The COC expects more than 20,000 guests to pass through its doors over the fortnight of the Games.

Canada Olympic House

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