Bulbous ice rink in Belgium compared to sea creature for metallic scaled facade
Completed in December 2012, the Olympic Ice Rink of Liege, Belgium is a glittering new leisure venue which branches off from the Mediacite, a banded shopping mall designed by Ron Arad Architects. Described by its architects L’Escaut Architectures as ‘a whale covered in 200,000 aluminium scales’, the solid silver mass is located on a former industrial site and clearly takes inspiration from this with its raw metallic finish. The project has been delivered by l'Escaut Weinand Momentary Association.
A rounded bulb at the rear of the complex indicates an entrance to the customer car park below ground, referred to as ‘the whale’s head’. The majority of the exterior is void of glass to ensure optimum insulation for the ice rink within however a square pane and smattering of tiny portholes punctuate the façade to shed some light on activities within. This external casing also protects the neighbouring buildings from any excess noise.
Much careful consideration has gone into the design of this rink to ensure that it is fit for both for public and professional use. L’Escaut details: “The interior space of the rink focuses on the heart of the matter: functionality, economy and pleasure. The inhabitants of Liege will recognise the seats of the former ice rink from Coronmeuse, hosted in the ‘Grand Palais des fetes’, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1939.”
Capable of hosting international competitions, the facility has 1,200 seats and a surface area of 6,700 sq m. Keeping the ice sheet at optimum skating quality are a series of systems including: an outer shell with an insulation factor of K22; 2 refrigeration units developing 1,000 kW coupled with 4 sets of air coolers; and a ventilation system with a flow rate of 60,000 cb m/hr for dehumidifying the air of the rink. There is also the option to connect to the adjacent mall heating system to recycle excess energy at a later date.