Architects: Sadar Vuga Arhitekti (lead architect); KSS, London (consultant in sports architecture); MYSI, Tel Aviv (shopping centre concept); OFIS arhitekti, Ljubljana (architect shopping centre) Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia Landscape Architects: AKKA, Ljubljana Construction Engineering: Gradis; Atelier One, London Mechanical Engineering: Lenassi; Jelen & Zaveršnik Electrical Engineering: Elprojekt; UTRIS Fire Engineering: EKOsystem Client: Ljubljana City Municipality, Grep Project year: 2007 Site Area: 182,000 sqm Constructed Area: 460,720 sqm Photographs: Sadar Vuga
The Sports Park Stožice is a hybrid project. Its implementation is the result of the public-private partnership between the City of Ljubljana and the Grep development company. The Sports Park Stožice integrates a football stadium and a multi-purpose sports hall with a big shopping center, covered by the artificial landscape of the recreational park. As a result 182,000sqm Sports Park Stožice becomes one of the major focal points of Ljubljana’s urban life, attracting people of different interests and generation both during the daytime and in the evenings.
The sports hall and the football stadium, together with the big monolithic, prism-shaped residential towers of the BS3 neighborhood, the World Trade Center and Smelt buildings on the west side, and the forest island on the east side, create a cluster of recognizable iconic structures of the north-eastern entrance into the city. The two storeys of the shopping center and the interior car park fill the 12-meter deep disused gravel pit. The park that covers the roof of the shopping center continues the natural landscape across the northern section of the outer ring road with the green urban space all the way to the city center. The entire newly-built premises are integrated into the site, emphasizing the horizontal, planar character of the open space. The stadium and sports hall buildings frame the view of the Alps towards the north, and the castle hill and city center towers towards the south.
The recreational park on the roof of the shopping center is an artificial technical landscape composed of recognizable micro-ambients that withstand the pressure of the crowd before major sporting events and still offer pleasure and comfort to an afternoon stroller, a skateboarder, or children on the playground. The plateau of the park is pierced by vertical connections of accesses from the lower car parks, ventilation shafts, and light wells belonging to the shopping center. The big central atrium with its pavilions represent the main access point to the shopping center’s two floors. The position and size of these vertical connections, together with the micro topography, greenery and paving, determine the various micro-ambients and give the park its special character of a hybrid open urban space, where the natural intervenes with the artificial, the digital with the analogue, the noisy with the quiet, and the full with the empty. On the north side, the park’s plateau ends with a vertical overhang – the facade of the shopping center.
The football stadium for 16,000 spectators is designed according to contemporary economic, sociological and environmental UEFA standards. Its design and shape provide ideal conditions for sporting events and ensure the perfect experience for the spectators.
The football stadium is laid out under the plateau of the park. As a structure, it’s therefore ‘sunk’ into the park.
Only the roof over the stands rises above the plane of the park as a monolithic crater.
The rest of the roof of the stadium on the west, north, and south side represents a green, partially accessible continuation of the park’s plane. The plane is pierced by four fights of stairs that provide access and lead to the stadium’s concourse. Towards the east side of the stadium, the park’s plateau gradually descends for 6m down to the eastern platform. Seen from this point, the stadium reveals itself as an open building. The wide edge of the roof presenting as an electronic display board continues into the park’s plane. The activities in the park on front of the stadium are refected in the mirror-fnish exterior facades of the kiosks inside concourse while openings between them create the view into the interior of the stadium.
Over the concourse and the stands stretches a 4x4m grid concrete roof. The grid of the roof determinates the ‘crater’ of the stadium and emphasizes the sensation of the interior. The stands descend downwards from the concourse and surround the football pitch, which enables the spectators to be very near to the action, yet still be covered with the roof.
On the west side of the stadium, the concourse terminates at the VIP and media rooms. This section continues into the underground buildings with all the necessary amenities for the players and their support teams.
In the context of the wider city landscape, the roof over the stands – the crater – becomes the stadium’s distinctive mark. Due to the special finishes of the exterior cladding, the colour of the crater changes depending on the weather, the intensity of natural lighting, the viewing angle and distance. The appearance of the monolithic structure over the park’s plane thus constantly changes.
The sports hall for 12,000 spectators is located in the north-western part of the park. The four levels of concourses and the lower, VIP, and upper stands are covered by a shell-shaped dome. The park’s plateau, the edge of the shell scallops and opens towards the interior. The ridges continue all the way to the top, where the facade meets the dome. This outlines the shape of the hall, a shell that opens towards the perimeter with large crescent openings overlooking the park. Along the entire perimeter, there is a canopy encircling the hall, acting as a derivative to the scalloped shell. Like the stadium, the entire shell of the hall is also finished in exterior cladding that changes colour depending on the exterior conditions and viewing distance.
The sports hall is a partially recessed building. Its volume is determined by the required seating capacity and the size of the basketball and handball court, which are the two sports that the hall is primarily intended for.
The position of the stands ensures maximum compactness of the interior space and allows the spectators to be as close to the action on the court as possible. VIP seating is situated between the lower and the upper stands. The warm-up hall is connected to the main hall on the lowest floor, under the surface of the park. The whole interior surface of the shell is determined by the geometry of the steel structure – a large ornament that levitates above the upper concourse, stands, and courts.
The lower, VIP, and upper concourses with kiosks surround the interior of the hall and open towards the park. The double height spaces and terraces interconnect visually the concourses and create a permeable space between the interior of the hall and the park.
The crater of the football stadium and the shell of the sports hall on the park’s plateau become two tuned icons of the new Ljubljana.
The shopping center is, beside the stadium and the hall, the third major object of the Sports Park Stožice. Since it is open every day, it generates activity in the park even when the stadium and the hall are inactive. Positioned in the section between the car park and the park’s plateau, enables excellent accessibility to the visitors and the integration of the retail programme with the activities in the park.
The main interior shopping avenues connect the three wings of the two-storey center and converge in the central atrium, which connects upwards to the park. The central atrium also represents the spot where the activities in the park and the shopping in the center merge together.