Decoding Design

Smart roof earns skating track architecture prize

Smart roof earns skating track architecture prize

Posting in Architecture

Thanks to a new, innovative roof, Germany's Speedskating Stadium Inzell has earned the title of best sports building in the 2011 World Architecture Awards.

The 2011 World Architecture Awards last week selected Speedskating Stadium Inzell, in southern Germany, as the world's best sports building.

The stadium's new roof -- it was formerly an open-air track -- earned it the award. Designed by Stuttgart-based Behnisch Architekten, the roof is supported without the use of interior columns. This, plus its continuous glass facade, gives fans uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountains as well as the action in the arena, which is 200 meters long and 90 meters wide.

The new roof sits like a cloud (or a giant marshmallow, perhaps) over the track and it is designed to retain the track's low temperature. The ceiling is coated with a stretched low-e membrane that serves to reflect the cold air from the ice back down toward the track in a thermal.

Large north-facing skylights -- 17 of them -- scavenge much of the Bavarian winter daylight, helping to brighten the track and reduce reliance on artificial lighting.

The new stadium, which can accommodate 7,000 spectators, was put to the test this year, hosting the World Single Distant Speed Skating Championships.

The World Architecture Festival, which was held in Barcelona, November 2-4, is unlike other architecture events in that it features live presentations by the competitors, in front of a panel of judges.

The awards, which include 17 different building type categories, including shopping centers, transport, display and civic/communirty buildings, are intended to highlight new buildings that have not yet garnered wide acclaim.

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure