Located in Zagreb, Croatia, Designed by UPI-2M, Arena Zagreb is the multifunctional indoor arena built to host the 2009 World Men’s Handball Championship. It is located in the south-western part of Zagreb, Croatia. Thanks to its strong design and position at one of the main city entrances, it has immediately become a landmark for the city.
The architectural approach of Arena Zagreb is an authentic Croatian product. The unique shape of this building is strongly inspired by its significance in the city context, and also by its mega-structural characteristics that predefined main bearing elements.
Shaped as an oval ribbed white bowl, 86 large pre-stressed, pre-fabricated concrete curved columns form the main façade, mutually connected by illuminate semi-translucent polycarbonate envelope that enables various light effects. The suspended roof structure hangs from those columns leaving minimum roof structure below roof level. The additional benefit of such system is saving in the volume of air that should be conditioned within the court bowl.
Having in mind that the venue of such capacity cannot be profitable if capable to host only sports competitions, Arena was designed as the multifunctional hall with all spatial and functional characteristics which enable maximal flexibility and provide realisation of numerous events. Multi-functionality is achieved by the flexibility of the grandstand with its lower rows of retractable seats and curtain partitions, then possibility of dividing the whole building in smaller mutually independent spatial zones and by covering the needs of all types of users and events. Also, preserving the sufficient spaces reserved for performers and event managers and providing simple and fluid visitors’ circulation from entering point to the seats on the stand, then offering various catering facilities as well as adequate acoustic interventions within the bowl shell and at last, providing the sufficient bearing capacity capable for carrying additional scene equipment, make a great contribution to building’s qualities.
Thanks to collaboration with expert consultants, many important issues that evolved the building were applied. For example, no natural light is enabled except in case when the light-proof roof sky domes are in open position. This is very important for matches to be played without light reflection disturbance and quality TV broadcasting. One of the added values of the Arena Zagreb is its contribution to urbanity and development of a neglected and undeveloped city area. It became a magnet and a development trigger for the whole region. The area was previously undeveloped city district with few low budget social residential buildings and uncultivated fields. The area surrounding has started to develop rapidly and the Arena has become the highlight point of the new planned shopping / entertainment complex surrounded with new planned residential zones.
The size of such venues, in comparison with the standard city scale, implicates the significance they have in the global city image. Therefore, sense of balance, good form design and structure in synergy with urban context are conditions to meet in order to enter the list of city emblems.