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Image ©Meike Hansen

The outdoor speed skating track was originally built in 1965, and it needed an extensive, modern renovation in order to become a top-notch competition facility. Although the climate at the foot of Falkenstein mountain has ideal conditions in the winter, the facility needed to be enclosed to guarantee optimum ice conditions for skating. Behnisch and Pohl’s solution was to cap the track with a large, clear-span roof and enclose the sides with transparent band that provides daylight and views of the Bavarian Alps. The new arena can hold up to 7,000 spectators, and it is flexible enough to accommodate large-scale, world-class competitions as well as regular, seasonal speed skating training.

The roof spans the 200 meter x 90 meter track with nary a column, creating a clear and open space for competitors as well as spectators. The roof is outfitted with a ‘Low-E’ membrane stretched between the lower cords of the ten-meter high timber and steel trusses – this helps to precisely maintain the stadium’s climate. The engineered fabric actually reflects the ice’s cold back down onto the competition surface, which provides optimum skating conditions and minimizes the chance of the air cooling down and condensing on any of the wooden surfaces of the roof. While many ice rinks require powerful blowers to keep air from condensing, the high performance roof doesn’t need it and actually improves the acoustics and provides diffuse, glare-free natural daylighting through 17 north-facing skylights.

The project also utilizes of wood pellets as a source of energy, and exhaust heat from the ice machinery is used to heat the stadium. Special energy-efficient nozzles are used to keep the ice cool, and other energy efficiency upgrades were made throughout the facility in conjunction with the renovation. The surface surrounding the ice rink was re-vegetated in order to strengthen the link between the facility and the natural environment.

Images ©Meike Hansen and David Mathiesen courtesy of Behnisch Architekten