At the end of last year, a beautiful ski complex opened in Planica, a historic winter sports center in Slovenia. The complex, managed by the Slovenian Ministry of Sports and Education, offers large and small hills for multiple types of skiing: jumping; flying, which is apparently a more extreme form of jumping; and cross-country. Elegantly set at the foot of the protected Triglav National Park, the facility features sculpted cement and wood buildings and slopes, harking back to the heyday of Midcentury Modernism. Designed by Abiro architects and Studio Akka landscape architects, the complex is integrated into the surrounding pine and beech forest.
According to Studio Akka, much planning and design work went into ensuring the new complex fit the scale of the site. The design team used “the precise planning of topography, the systematic selection and reduction of material, shapes, and forms” in order to integrate with “the exciting silhouette of the mountains and the calmness of the pine and beech forest.”
They also explained that within the complex, form followed function. “Design follows technical and organizational requirements.” Multiple ski lifts take different kinds of fliers and jumpers up to their slopes. But stepping back, the firm writes, “the ski jumps that fan across the landscape introduce a spatial order that unites all elements into a meaningful whole.”
Unlike other ski complexes, the ski jumps at Planica can be used year-round. A base mat of astro-turf enables fliers and jumpers to practice in off-seasons as well.
In warmer months, the underlying forms fully reveal themselves and the wood details pop against the greenery.
As one season transitions to another, the complex creates a set of dialogues: “solid versus soft, resistant versus ephemeral, cold versus warm, monumental versus intimate.”
The complex can fit up to 15,000 spectators. Seating is built into viewing spots at the base of the slopes.
But the complex may be most appealing when no one is there, except for the “young ski jumpers who come to train in solitude.” Then, the complex’s “simplicity” and its respect for nature is most apparent, writes Studio Akka.
Slovenian ski enthusiasts expect big things for local talent on these jumps and courses. The 37th annual FIS Ski Jumping World Cup comes to the new center in mid-March. Slovenia Peter Precv is currently world leader and will need to exceed a flying jump of 241.5 meters to set a new record in Planica.