Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, perhaps one of the youngest architects to get the “starchitect” label, is creating a model of biophilic design with a new sports center in Umea, Sweden, which will be set in an “open landscape where the inside and outside meet seamlessly.” Preserving the natural lines of the site located in the Umedalen Sculpture Park, Ingels will use the area’s “natural bowl-shape” to create a dramatic 4,600 square meter ice rink, amphitheatre, restaurant, and outdoor cafe.
BIG let the natural elements of the existing site dictate the design. A natural recess that offered “people a nice place to hang out and enjoy the nature” was effectively cut into two. The south half was then used to create the new ice rink. “By splitting the recessed area into two, we can sweep the program under a green roof, the latter becoming part of the sculpture park.” The rink’s green roof will serve an extension of the surrounding landscape, blending hidden structural and natural elements.
The biophilic design ensures the center functions well year-round. In the colder months, a new glass facade in the middle of the recess will enable ample sunlight to warm the interior but will protect hockey players and ice skaters from the frigid temperatures outside. In warmer months, the daylit subterranean facility’s facade will open up, removing the barriers between the indoor spaces and the outdoor amphitheatre. BIG writes: “the interior landscape is considered an extension of the exterior landscape.”
Given this center is supposed to be an “accessible landscape” in all seasons, the design for the wheelchair ramps were built into the early concepts.
Also worth checking out: Ingel released plans for a new waste-to-energy power plant that will also function as a ski slope. Multi-use infrastructure projects like these show how otherwise-unwieldy infrastructure can be better integrated into communities. See his new TED talk as well.