Fighting fit

08 Apr 2011

Former Barcelona bullring converted into retail, entertainment and leisure complex

A 19th century bullring in Barcelona left to decay with the fading interest in bullfighting has been transformed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners into a mixed use commercial facility, reigniting interest in this formerly significant landmark in the city’s heritage.

Recently completed, the complex was opened to the public in March, offering commercial, entertainment, and health and leisure facilities, arranged around a central event space. Las Arenas encompasses 47,000 sq m in its cylindrical form and is located at the foothill of Montjuic at the intersection of Gran Via and Avenue Parallel.

The entire complex has been raised above the streets at ground level, with ramps and stairs providing access, meaning the lengthy construction project involved the excavation of the base of the facade and the insertion of composite arches to support the existing wall and create new spaces for shops and restaurants. Similar amenities will also be provided by the nearby ‘Eforum’ building.

Las Arenas’ signature domed roof measures 76m in diameter, is structurally independent from the facade and floats above a habitable ‘dish’ (100m in diameter) creating a magnificent viewing platform for visitors to the complex. The domed roof itself has been finished with a plastic coating to reduce solar glare. Orientation within the facility is afforded using a variety of stairs, escalators, bridges and walkways, with four passenger lifts split into pairs on either side of the circular atrium.

Public plazas have been manufactured on the ground plane, improving ease of accessibility from the nearby metro station and Parc Joan Miro. Access routes from the Parc Joan Miro and Gran Via bisect the building at 180 degrees to one another, forming a cruciform system leading to the central atrium space.

Structural columns are contained within the stairs, lifts and bridges, allowing for an open, column-free space at level 4 and removing the need for any structural members to pass through the cinema spaces below at levels 2 and 3. These cinema spaces are formed by large steel cantilevered boxes that effectively constitute a separate, self-contained structural system within the building and rest on a concrete base at level 2.

All the constituent parts – the façade, the roof-level spaces, the four internal segments and the adjacent Eforum – are structurally independent, allowing for future flexibility and change to encourage a wide variety and rotation of activities, including sports events, fashion shows and exhibitions.

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