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Coop Himmelb(l)au wins Ice Palace contract

Austrian architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au has won an international design competition for the redevelopment of the Ice Palace, current home of Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) club CKA Saint Petersburg.

The arena was originally built for Saint Petersburg’s staging of the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) 2000 World Championship, and has a capacity of 12,300. The IIHF’s showpiece event is currently scheduled to return to the Russian city in 2023, with a revamped Ice Palace having been part of the hosting plan.

Vienna-based Coop Himmelb(l)au’s winning design follows the tradition of Russian constructivism. At the time of constructivism, Russia produced unique milestones in architectural history through the work of the likes of Vladimir Tatlin and El Lissitzky.

Coop Himmelb(l)au said: “The design of the new CKA Ice Hockey Arena in St. Petersburg follows the tradition of this unique era of constructivism, where everything was possible, and translates its expressive, open design language into a contemporary context.

“The filigree framework of its construction, based on Tatlin’s ‘Monument to the Third International,’ is transferred to the flowing, dynamic movement of a person skating around the stadium.”

The revamped Ice Palace is intended to become the centrepiece of a newly created park designed for year-round use. Without changing the existing structure inside the arena, a second, transparent cladding will be created, which serves as a supporting structure for the overlying, dynamically cantilevered roof.

Coop Himmelb(l)au added: “This filigree construction is only interrupted by arches at those points where the stairs to the ring-shaped plinth are placed. This creates a covered arcade that is protected from wind and rain that can also be used for merchandising shops and food stands.

“Balconies, which are attached to the thermal shell within these arcades, connect the functional areas inside the arena with the protected outside space and can also be used as lounges and restaurant terraces outside of event times. A transparent media screen made of LED dots inside the glass envelope communicates the current events over a large area in the area around the arena.”

The roof of the arena has been shaped like a flattened dome. This is equipped with solar panels on the side facing the sun, plus an LED screen above the main entrance, which has been designed to be seen from afar.

Plans for the Ice Palace have been decided after then-Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov in December 2019 maintained that Russia remained committed to plans to develop the world’s largest ice hockey arena in Saint Petersburg amid ongoing questions over the city’s hosting rights to the 2023 World Championship.

In August 2018, billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko first revealed plans to develop the arena for CKA Saint Petersburg, which he owns. Timchenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the arena would come at a projected cost of at least R20bn (£189m/€217.9m/$259.1m).

The new arena was intended to be built by 2023 and offer a capacity for 21,500 to 23,000 fans. The Ice Palace has been listed as one of two venues for the 2023 World Championship, along with the new arena.

Images: Coop Himmelb(l)au