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Arena du Pays d´Aix, Auer Weber and Christophe Gulizzi, France

Floating Elegance: Arena du Pays d’Aix

Like the Allianz Arena and many other stadiums, the arena by Aix-en-Provence is located directly at a highway crossing, making it easily accessible to large numbers of visitors. Unlike the Allianz Arena this sports hall, which was designed by Auer Weber and Christophe Gulizzi, does not imposingly arise from the landscape. Rather, its offset, stacked rings and sleek white colour make it blend into the local terrain.

The base consists entirely of glass, which gives the whole construction a certain lightness and floating elegance. From a distance, the shadows and alignment make the aluminum-clad rings look almost like free-standing elements, as though they had been stacked randomly and not with great precision and attention to detail. What stands out is that the elements are not layered directly on top of each other, but are always somewhat offset. This deliberate misalignment increases in size as it gets closer to the main entrance, shifting the focus of the building towards the front. At night, the main entrance is accentuated by targeted underside lighting in the projections of the rings.

When visitors enter the building, they are led from a roof-high entry area sleekly kept in concrete and black into the large event hall with seats for up to 8,000 spectators. This space presents a stark contrast of light-coloured concrete and black ceiling and seats. It is clear that architecture plays a supporting role here while sports and other events occupy the foreground. The lower stage can either completely or partly recede into the wall. This modular construction technique enables the most flexible use of the arena.

Apart from the large sports hall, the building is also home to a smaller practice hall, which is likewise equipped with modular stages for up to 2,000 people. Furthermore, the arena has a clubhouse, fitness studios and a restaurant. The stadium is the new home-game location for PAUC, the local handball club, which inaugurated the hall with an opening game. The entire complex is laid out in such a way that not only sports events can take place here, but also other events such as trade fairs or concerts.

For more information about the arena, see
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DETAIL 9/2021

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