You can dance, race, glide or jump on ice: Rittberger, Axel, Salchow, toe loop, flip and Lutz. Many strange names, conjuring up distant contexts, and yet ice skating is now a sport open to all, whether you want to train as a professional or just taste the excitement of slipping along on a thin blade. But where can you find a real ice rink catering to these requirements? Many are being built in Italy, boosted by the ever-growing interest in ice skating. One of the most interesting is the Intercable Arena in Bruneck, in the heart of the Puster Valley, in the Alto Adige region. Taking shape from the creativity of the CeZ Architetti design studio, helmed by Carlo Calderan and Rinaldo Zanovello, the centre opened for business last autumn. The outcome of a competition won in 2015, it was inspired by the horizontal and contour lines of the area. So why should you visit it or skate here? We'll tell you why.
Bruneck’s Intercable Arena is a modern multi-purpose stadium focusing on ice sports. It offers facilities covering over 35,000 m2 ‒ 10,000 m2 of which is indoors ‒ bringing together various sports, including ice hockey, figure skating, ice skating, curling and ice stock sport, but also broomball, sledge hockey and short-track speed skating. Particularly appealing is that the design adapts to the dominant horizontal of its surrounding land, seeking out a ‘typographic’ anchoring to its landscape made up of agricultural terrain, road and railway embankments, derelict barracks, sports grounds, car parks, spacious school complexes and factories.
Looking at the stadium from close up you get the feeling of moving forward under a huge airship: it is made up of two main elements ‒ an artificial ‘dip’ in the land level and a roof to cover this. From the northern edge of the site, the ground gradually moves upwards and forms a plateau: a three-metre-tall block emerging from the earth as if pushed up by an earthquake. The basement is a sturdy volume, with the inside dug out to yield the two seating sections for the outdoor and indoor ice rinks created three metres below the level of the surrounding countryside. Instead, the roof is a plastic volume, a lens-type unit, a sort of wing gently resting on the artificial landscape below it, secured to the ground by V-shaped columns.
The polyurea roof coating makes the roof ‘skin’ look like a sort of membrane stretched over an invisible metallic structure by an internal force. The roof is in fact like a Zeppelin, ready to set sail if it weren't for the V-shaped columns anchoring it ‒ as if they were ropes ‒ to the floor below, blocking it mid-air.
Partially sinking the arena into the ground was not only for urban planning reasons. Besides enabling better inclusion of the volume within its surrounding landscape, it has also proven to be an efficient way of structuring and separating the different access routes to suit the precise needs of facilities also designed for competition purposes.
Once inside the building, its interior layout immediately becomes clear. The internal space is open and may be explored in all directions: a gallery area extends ring-like around a ‘crater’. The form of the roof helps to keep the sports action central and well visible. Southwards, towards a wooded slope, space remains open. The forest enters the indoor area and becomes a sort of stage set, a backdrop and part of the sporting event.
The basement is made up of two levels. On the upper floor is the spectator seating for the visiting team, also served by its own separate entrance. The same floor houses the offices for the sports clubs using the facilities. The lower basement level, on the same floor as the tracks, is where the changing rooms are located, set out in a ring around the ice rinks.
Thanks to its convertibility, the Intercable Arena does not only provide sports facilities for athletes and a stadium for Pustertal Wölfe Hockey Club, but also acts as a meeting place for the community and people of all ages.
Project by CeZ Calderan Zanovello Architetti, Bolzano
Project completion: 2021
Site area: 35.720 m2
Indoor area: 10.135 m2
Photography by Davide Perbellini, courtesy of CeZ Architetti
Rendering and drawings: courtesy of CeZ Architetti