The roof of the Pancho Arena cantilevers 43 feet over spectators and is supported by glulam columns
The organic architecture movement in Hungary grew in the late 20th century as a protest against the Brutalist architectural styles favored by the ruling Communist party. When current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán commissioned a landmark football (soccer) stadium at the Puskás Academy, just outside Budapest, he “...was firmly committed to the concept of organic Hungarian architecture,” says Tamás Dobrosi, principal at local firm Doparum Architects.
The 3,400-seat Pancho Arena, which hosts league matches and tournament games, maintains the style of the athletic academy’s campus, which was master planned by Imre Makovecz, a prominent proponent of organic architecture. The 130,000-square-foot arena harmonizes with the natural environment, from the fan vaults that spread like tree branches to the use of timber as the primary building material.
In total, nearly 1,000 tons of wood were used to form the vaulted structure. Austrian timber manufacturer Rubner Holzbau manufactured about 80 percent of the GL28 and GL32 pine beams—both mid-grade varieties of glulam—and Hungarian specialty timber mill Sokon completed the remaining fabrication and construction. Structural engineer László Pongor analyzed the system's capacity.
Dobrosi is proud that the Pancho Arena was designed and constructed by local firms. “Smaller firms may not have much big-project experience,” he says, “but [we] had lots of diligence and enthusiasm.”