Structural engineering is the servant of architecture in Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Las Arenas mixed development in Barcelona
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) set out to reinvent Las Arenas, a late 19th century bullring which had fallen out of use in the 1970s, into a 21st century landmark for Barcelona. Within the existing neo-mudéjar brick façade a new leisure and retail development has been created, topped by a ‘plaza in the sky.' This 360-degree roof terrace has become a new destination for tourists and locals alike.
Behind the façade of the former bullring, five floors of retail and leisure activities have been created across five floors, plus a basement car park. A large atrium space at the heart of the shopping centre gives legibility to the building, revealing shops, restaurants, a multiplex cinema and a gym and provides the focus for the building's circulation systems. Large yellow structural ‘trees' rise from ground level to support a 100m diameter habitable ‘dish' at level 5 which forms a flexible event space under a 76m diameter exposed timber grid shell domed roof. This is one of the largest unsupported domes in Europe and helps remove the need for columns within the cinema and gym. The roof terrace, where bars and restaurants with outdoor seating are open all day, circles the building and gives unrivalled views of Montjuic, the magic fountains and neighbouring areas of Barcelona.
The redevelopment includes a new, open public space around the building connected to two new bus stops, taxi ranks, bicycle racks and new underground access to the metro, the entrance to which is marked by a communications tower which also provides direct lift access to the roof terrace. Two main access routes cross through the centre of the building and provide access from Gran Via and Parc Joan Miró as well as Carrer Tarragona and Carrer de Llançà, improving connections and re-integrating what had become an isolated traffic island into the city fabric. At ground level new composite arches have been inserted to support the facade and create new glazed retail spaces which bring life and activity to the street front.
Las Arenas was opened on 25 March 2011 and during its opening week welcomed 300,000 visitors. It has been established as a major destination in Barcelona and has been recognised by the RIBA, ICE, Structural Steel and Civic Trust awards.
Area 47,000 m²