Ice Stadium in Wolfsburg
After gaining promotion to the top division in Germany, the Wolfsburg ice-hockey club was obliged to bring its stadium up to date in compliance with the conditions of the sport’s governing body, the German Ice Hockey League (DEL). The existing arena, dating from the 1980s, no longer met these requirements, and an investor-backed project for a new structure at a cost of ? 26 million unfortunately proved abortive. A low-cost stadium had to be erected quickly. The city of Wolfsburg jumped into the breach as financial backer, but with a much smaller budget of ? 7.5 million – in other words, less than a third of the sum originally envisaged. The architects carried out the design and construction planning parallel to each other, so that it was possible to go out to tender with virtually no further delay. Cost savings were made through a functional and constructional minimization of the planning that already existed. Incorporating a very small part of the existing hall, the original design concept was simplified, and the foyer and VIP areas were pared down. The originally curved walls were planned not in in-situ concrete poured in formwork, but as semi- finished elements with a polygonal layout. The broad-span roof structure – with an optimized moment curve – was designed in both timber and steel construction. These were put out to tender parallel to each other, and the more economical solution was implemented, namely that in steel. To lend the hall an appropriate expression, the architects articulated the large, closed external surfaces in a dynamic form, yet with the simplest of means. Instead of designing a rear-ventilated, uniform, sheet-metal facade, a structure was created – at no additional cost – consisting of aluminium elements of equal depth but of different widths. These enliven the face of the building and, in a certain light, lend it an undulating appearance. All scope for cutting costs was exploited. Additional requirements for fire protection and mechanical services were to be offset by making savings elsewhere. Nine months after the commencement of planning and six months after construction began, the ice stadium was handed over in time for the start of the season.