Gallery: The Bilbao Arena’s Green Lizard-Like Facade Defends Against th...

Large sports arenas tend to consume vast amounts of energy, which is why ACXT Architects gave the mammoth Bilbao Arena situated on a super-exposed hill in Spain an energy-regulating facade. Designed to look like different colored leaves, the "flapping" steel plates wrapped around the top of the arena can be removed to let in natural light and air, and to create views of the surrounding landscape. As a result, the wide corridors aren't air-conditioned at all, which cuts down a considerable amount of the building's overall energy requirement.

There are two parts to the Bilbao Arena, which is open to local residents when there are no sporting activities taking place. The loud enclosed arena is situated further away from the surrounding homes to cut down on noise pollution, while the quieter sports center hovers below. This section is naturally lit with a large skylight, and different functions are separated with transparent glass to ensure that this light is distributed throughout.

Atypical to this kind of infrastructure, the arena encloses a rainwater harvesting cistern that mitigates the need to use additional water to irrigate outside. Additionally, local law requires that a certain percentage of the swimming pool water should be “wasted” every day for hygiene purposes. This water is also collected in a cistern that supplies the municipality with fluid to clean the streets of Bilbao. At 30,808 sqm, this incredible sports arena has the potential to gobble up quite a lot of energy, but thanks to ACXT’s clever design, that potential has been nipped in the bud!

+ ACXT Architecture

Via Arch Daily


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1 Comment

  1. zapico November 17, 2011 at 10:03 am

    The “Spanish sun” in this case is more stereotype than reality. Bilbao, as most of “green spain” ( has quite a mild weather with (unfortunately) many rainy and overcast days. With a total of 1,584 sunshine hours a year it’s more similar to London (1,460) than to Madrid (2,769)

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