3XN refines the arena

Nick Myall
Wednesday 12 Oct 2016

Copenhagen's new Wood Clad, human scale Royal Arena is due to open in early 2017

3XN Architects are aiming to refine the typology of the arena with its new Royal Arena in Copenhagen. The 35,000 sq m multi-use building, owned by Realdania and the Municipality of Copenhagen and operated by Live Nation, will host up to 16,000 people for sporting events and concerts. Beyond supporting these commercial activities, 3XN designed the arena to be a good neighbour to the largely residential community in the Ørestad neighbourhood. Currently under construction, the Royal Arena will open in early 2017 with inaugural concerts by Metallica.

“Our greatest design challenge was balancing opposing forces and demands,” said Jan Ammundsen, Senior Partner, 3XN. “The project looks both inward and out; embraces the monumental and human scales; is hard and soft; playful and efficient. It accommodates large sports and entertainment events, yet also meets the neighbourhood at a human scale and makes the visitor experience intimate and welcoming.”

To achieve this balance, 3XN designed the Royal Arena with two primary elements: a plinth and a ‘bowl.’ The plinth absorbs the movement of spectators through a variety of small plazas, pockets, stairs and gathering areas that they carved from the plinth’s perimeter. These encourage the community to embrace the variety of public spaces and adjacencies that promote activity and liveliness when the building is not in use.

The ‘bowl’ inside operates as an efficient machine. The design prioritizes clear sight lines and wayfinding, excellent service and easy loading in and out to ensure performances take place as seamlessly –and cost effectively – as possible.

“We believe that the arena must also benefit the people around the building,” said Kim Herforth Nielsen, Creative Director and Founder of 3XN. “We address the needs of the ‘passive user’ who may not even enter the building, but perhaps be walking by or live in the community. By creating four smaller public squares around the arena, it reduces the project’s overall scale, helps to better define the environment, and establishes inviting areas in which people can socialize, play sports or relax.”

3XN clad the oval-shaped structure with a semi-transparent glass façade system topped with wooden fins, some up to 35m long. Varying the length of the fins around the façade creates a refined, undulating rhythm. In contrast to most arenas whose hard surfaces accentuate their massive scale, these wooden finds soften the Royal Arena’s scale and extend a warm welcome.

The glass façade beneath the fins allows views into and out of the facility. The wavelike movements of the fins lift up slightly above the natural entry points of the Arena, making way finding easy and logical.

While the interior is robust and efficient, natural light via transparent windows coupled with warm materials establish a strong connection to the plinth and extend the welcome feeling. Visitors will not feel like they are just inside a ‘music machine,’ but in a building that addresses its surroundings with views out as well as in.  

Nick Myall

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