Thymio Papayannis and Associates Inc., had undertaken the complete urban and architectural studies for the regeneration of the Faliron Bay including the coordination of all studies and the original design of the Sports Pavilion, venue of the Hand Ball and Tae Kwon Do competitions.
Regarded as one of the most recognizable venues of the Olympic Sports Facilities, the stadium was designed to host the Handball and Tae-Kwon-Do events, having a capacity of 8,000 seats. The main arena has been ingeniously designed, with two equally numbered groups of seats, divided on two levels. The ones on the second level, were mounted on a temporary metal structure, which where then removed upon completion of the Olympic Games, allowing the residual spaces to be used for various functions.
Accordingly, on the lower level of the arena, the seating was placed on retractable structures, as to allow for the requirements of a multifunctional use (exhibitions, conventions, arts, etc).
The building comprises of the main hall arena on its lower level-having a two level stands structure- and two buildings of smaller volume, located on each side of the arena, with paved roofs accessible for general use and serve as entrances-exits of the building on second level.
During the period of the Games, these buildings served as the athletes’ training and warming up areas and as discrete areas for the uses of Press. The oval form of the hall responds to the existence of two main axes, while its hyperbolic paraboloid roof is planned to decrease the visual impact of this great volume. The roof is surrounded by an elliptical perimeter with main axes of 130m and 90m, which contains an internal elliptical ring with variable level along its length. The external ring rests on eight reinforced concrete lift and ventilation shafts. The part of the roof between the two rings is a composite structure consisting of a grid of radial and peripheral steel beams supporting a concrete slab on forded steel sheets. The part of the roof surrounded by the internal ring is a hyperbolic paraboloid structure suspended by an orthogonal net of prestressed cables. Corrugated steel sheets, with embedded insulation, are placed on this net, while a system of catwalks is suspended from the nodes. The latter comprises of light steel trusses, which are provided for lighting and acoustic installations.
MAIN DESIGN PRINCIPLES
• The design of the building’s main volume was influenced by the nature of the athletic event that would take place in the venue and in accordance with the specifications and requirements dictated by the relevant organizing committee.
• The thoughtful positioning of the stadium in close proximity to the esplanade-an elevated pedestrian walkway directly connecting the city to the sea-, its adjacent lower rise buildings and the careful contouring of the surrounding landscape, all contribute in the hall’s seamless integration with its surroundings as well as finalizing its massing and morphological identity.
• High level of layout flexibility.
• Ease of accessibility – Prerequisite for integration with proximal and overall areas of the Athenian Prefecture.
BUILDING’S KEY VALUE
• The building’s key position in the whole Faliron Bay regeneration-its proximity to the city, the esplanade and the city-as well as its innovative and state of the art design, have both established it as a landmark for the city of Athens.
• The massing of the sport’s hall is in complete harmony with the general design and geometry of the General Master plan, aiming to reduce the height and lightness in the structure. The shape, together with the design solution implemented for enclosing the arena and the careful selection of the building’s envelope materials (i.e. glass, aluminum shades and timber cladding) contribute towards that objective. • The building’s initial design had accounted for both its Olympic and post-Olympic use, hence allowing for the prospect to function as a multi-purpose hall. This has actually been the key challenge accomplished by the design, as much gravity was given from a very early stage on this design parameter.
In light of the contemporaneous global economic environment, the prevailing perception fosters the creation of flexible units, which could-with certain small and/or large scale adjustments-serve a wider spectrum of user needs and requirements. By incorporating flexibility into the design the return generated by such units can be substantially increased and, when compared to having a limited and focused functionality, could actually turn non-viable solutions into viable. The building is easily accessible from 4 sides on two levels, featuring an increased level of safety and functionality for egress and regress purposes.
The regeneration of the Faliron Bay area is undoubtedly one of the most important projects that were successfully carried through, within the overall project development programme undertaken for the Athens 2004 Olympics. A very significant part of that regeneration was, and still is, the design and completion of the Handball and Tae-Kwon-Do sports hall.