His back garden has hosted an Olympic opening ceremony, and his bedrooms once served as changing rooms for the world’s best athletes.
The ski resort of St. Moritz in Switzerland is home to many affluent residents, but none live in a house quite like Rolf Sachs.
The artist-designer transformed the town’s Olympic Stadium, which hosted two Winter Games in 1928 and 1948, into his own abode after it fell into disrepair over the second half of the 20th Century.
An Olympic flag still flies from the tower of the former stadium, and ice hockey pitches and seats for spectators are still visible amongst the layers of snow piled in Sachs’ “garden.”
He was careful to preserve as much of the original structure as possible, restoring the old windows and ensuring the main building maintains its one-story design with a connecting tower.
“It was a ruin and I loved the architecture,” says Sachs, who grew up in Switzerland but moves around the world depending where his art and business interests lead him.
“I am very connected with St. Moritz. I thought it was an iconic building that we absolutely had to preserve, so I thought to make a house out of it.
“I even had a public vote here in St. Moritz and finally got the permit. And now it’s a very, very happy home for all my family and friends.”
‘Generosity, tolerance, friendship’
The tale of old, Olympic stadiums suffering at the hands of neglect is not an unfamiliar one.
The legendary 78,000-seat Maracana in Rio de Janeiro has been the victim of robberies and vandalism; seats are missing and the browning pitch is infested with worms.
Sachs felt passionately that a similar fate shouldn’t befall the Swiss venue. He admits that the original building, made largely from stone and wood, was built “very cheaply,” but the renovated site now stands as proudly as ever before.
From the stadium, there is a stunning view over Lake St. Moritz and the Cresta Run — the town’s famous toboggan track — is situated just beyond a row of trees overlooking his house.
The interior of his home serves as a relic of past Olympics, with black and white photos adorning the walls, while Sachs proudly shows off an original gold medal he was gifted from the ’48 Games.
“It is an attitude that I have. I believe that something beautiful should still have this old spirit which unfortunately in most parts of the world it is a little bit forgotten and lost and one has to really educate the people again to try to get that spirit.
“It’s also to do with generosity and tolerance and friendship.”
The values embodied by Sachs’ unique abode, it seems, are as timeless as the Olympic spirit itself.