ARCHITECT GRY KJÆR: CAN AN ARENA BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR?

March 31, 2021

"Structum" Editorial office.

portalas@structum.lt

Can You introduce architecture studio „3XN“? What is Your role and field of work?

3XN/GXN A/S was founded in 1986, is located in Copenhagen Denmark in an old warehouse, once used to build cannon boats. We have offices in Copenhagen, London, New York and Sydney and are app. 130 persons in total. Since the beginning, 3XN has seen rapid development in recent years to become an independent entity on today’s architectural scene.

The goal for 3XN has been a synthesis between a clear, visionary architectural expression and the programme for any given project – to achieve simple solutions while avoiding banality. We push the boundaries of projects to create buildings that people will love for decades to come. We learn from previous projects and find that the approach with research is essential to our architecture and allows us to push the boundaries of aesthetics and functionality.

We place people at the heart of architecture. This is the core of our approach to every project.

We design buildings for the people t live, learn and work together and all of our projects draw their energy and purpose from our commitment to enrich peoples´s lives and the world we live in.

We advance a vision of clarity and generosity founded in Scandinavian traditions but with a clear outlook to the world.

We have a large variety of projects, but key to them all are that they contribute and gives something back to the end users.

Let us talk about projects such as arenas which are little used in these conditions. Studio „3XN“ designed a lot of arenas. Can You name the main projects?

We are currently designing the München Arena for Redbull, the project is currently under construction, we have a competition win for Bergen By-Arena in Norway and the completed Royal Arena here in Copenhagen, that I´m presenting today as the main arena projects.

Copenhagen’s new international arena „Royal arena“ is not like a traditional arena. What distinguishes the Royal Arena project?

The key element for the royal Arena is that the Arena should give something back to the city – it is not a building that only focus on the interior and the action inside; but the building should also be a good neighbour.

The 35.000 m2 Royal Arena, opened in February 2017 with four sold out concerts by Metallica. Specially designed for concerts and international level sporting events, this new venue combines two key ambitions: to create an attractive and highly flexible multi-purpose arena that can attract spectators locally as well as internationally, while ensuring that the building’s presence will be a catalyzer for growth for the entire district as well as Copenhagen.

Without a doubt, a building of this size affects the community next to it. Copenhagen’s new international arena is not, like a traditional arena, located on the outskirts of the city. It sits amidst a dense residential urban area with housing and businesses. As ’the good neighbour,’ therefore, its design needs to encourage active interaction and those characteristic values which make a neighbourhood enjoyable.

Contrary to similar sports and entertainment venues which are typically inward-looking places, its structure is designed to open onto the city and to interact with the plazas and walkways of the surrounding neighborhood by offering shapes and facilities that will catalyze activities, social encounters and stay.

With a podium that offers different public areas for social meetings and daily activities with a warm timber façade allowing spectators to look out and the curious to look in, the arena is designed to catalyse urban life, thereby adding value and fitting into the surrounding neighbourhood.

The semi-transparent facade allows people inside the building to enjoy glimpses of the surroundings, causing an interplay between interior and exterior which is new to arena typology.

Please, share Your experience. What is important to know for architects who are going to design big arenas? How to control large areas?

The key important thing is to make sure that the building should contribute to the area, the city and to the users.
Meaning that the exterior should be useable for the neighbourhood outside event-hours, and should not enclose itself, but open and make the life inside visible.

For the neighbours to be able to see the flow areas and the guests arriving, will be a benefit.

If it is only surrounded by large parking areas, the building will not contribute but only be.

The other most important thing is that the Arena is designed to function, meaning that functionality is essential in venues, that are relying on smooth productions and quick changes, therefore it is important to understand and acknowledge the flows within the building. As an architect, you need to make sure, that you understand and support the end users, if an arena is difficult to fit a show in – or cannot fulfil the requirements for sound / F&B´s and logistics – and toilets, the artists will remove the city from the next tour – or the audience will complain – and no one benefits from bad reviews.

Let’s think about importance of sustainability in building. What is Your opinion about it?

An arena is an atypical building with a very different user pattern, compared to f.i. an office building. It requires a tremendous amount of power, water and energy on event days and have days with no use at all. Therefore, it is important that the building is sectioned, so that the energy is only used, where the building is in function.

It is important to incorporate intelligent systems that secures, that lighting / heating ect only is applied in areas where you have people working on non-event days, but it is also important that the power provisions isn´t based on the day-by-day use, but that you have sufficient power to run the biggest shows, if you don´t have sufficient power, the show will not visit your building.

For example, in Lithuania we have a lot of old, even soviet, arenas. What You think if it is easier to reconstruct old arenas or to built new?

I´m not particularly familiar with old arenas, but they rarely can fulfill the requirements of giving aesthetics back to the city, having the sufficient amount of comfort and VIP-experiences, that are required in a modern Arena, so retrofitting and modernizing this probably would be quite expensive. However, it should be based on a case-by-case study. But I´m probably not the expert here.

What architects should overthink before the transformation of large arenas? Have you had to work on such projects?

Again, when an arena is transformed it is essential that the preliminary studies are used to analyze if the function of the building still can be applied. If you don´t have a spacious loading bay – or lack of distribution spaces – or toilets, and these cannot be added without compromising the overall building, then it´s probably a difficult task.

But sometimes the building and the structure is adaptable and a new façade, better audience-facilities and probably a much better acoustic treatment can do the work.

It is important that the Arena is built for the purpose, for instance – the Arena in Copenhagen is more a Concert venue that can fit an ice hockey game, and therefore the sound and reverberation is fitted to suit concerts more than sports. But old arenas are mainly built for sports and therefore it can be difficult to meet the high acoustic requirements from the different artists.

The Redbull Arena in München is mainly an ice hockey and basketball arena, therefore the facilities and functions support this use, but the absorption and reverberation can also comfort a concert.

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architect

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