Urban History

Research Article

Motion and landscape: Otl Aicher, Günther Grzimek and the graphic and garden designs of the 1972 Munich Olympics


a1 History Department, Durham University, 43 North Bailey, Durham DH1 3EX, UK

a2 Pembroke College, Cambridge CB2 1RF, UK


This article focuses on Otl Aicher's design and Günther Grzimek's garden architecture for the 1972 Munich Olympics. We argue that the functionalist aesthetics of the Munich Olympic site should be interpreted as a translation into graphic and landscape design of 1960s progressivism in West German society and democracy. In the process Aicher and Grzimek somewhat paradoxically drew on the tradition of the Olympic Gesamtkunstwerk inaugurated in Berlin in 1936.


* Our thanks go to Uta Balbier and Stefan Wiederkehr for providing us with the opportunity to present this research at their conference ‘A Whole New Game: Expanding the Boundaries of the History of Sports’ at the German Historical Institute in Washington in 2008. We would also like to thank Paul Betts for his insightful comments on the design chapter of our forthcoming book The 1972 Olympics and the Making of the Modern Germany (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2010), parts of which form the basis for this article. All translations from the German are ours.