Torino Internazionale | The events factory



Andrea Maffei, Arata Isozaki & Associates


Taking on the competition, the first goals that we set ourselves were of an urban planning nature. The possibility of transforming such a vast area of the city appeared an occasion to interpret the language of the city of Torino, not only to create a building.

The project required by the competition, held in 2001, included the municipal Stadium and the Torre Maratona, the Piazza d'Armi park opposite the building, and the former Combi area behind it. Also envisaged was putting the road that leads to the facility, Corso Sebastopoli, underground, to link the park and the sports facilities in a new sports village, as happened in Montjuic for the Barcelona Olympics of 1992.

In this context, the Stadium and the Tower were effectively central elements, while the rest were just additional elements. In the new project, we focused on creating an urban system that integrated the volumes of the buildings with the empty urban spaces - squares and the park - in a dynamic relationship with the rest of the city. Torino is characterised by a regular, chequered layout of squares and streets: our master plan for the project intended to reflect this pattern and translate it into the rectangular shape of the hockey rink building and the straight-line, regular landscaping of the park.

The Torre Maratona acts as a cornerstone, located facing the park and at the end of a waterway in which it is reflected. The old Stadium is a very interesting work of architecture, with astounding proportions, to welcome a large public in a low building. The new hockey rink interacts with the Stadium, which we planned to restore, reinterpreting its proportions through the use of modern materials. The park of Piazza d'Armi has also been redesigned to underline the relations between the various facilities, while Corso Sebastopoli has been closed to traffic and transformed into a vast pedestrian plaza, between the park and the facilities, to enable the management of large influxes of crowds to create an official and emblematic place for the Olympics.

The hockey stadium is composed of a large volume in stainless steel of 183 by 100 metres, floating on a transparent glass base 5 metres high. The dimensions of the new building have been designed to reflect the proportions of the old Municipal Stadium, only 15 metres high. To this end, the main roof of the hockey was moved back to leave the view of a rectangular parallelepiped in stainless steel, with the same height of the captivating concrete ellipse of the old building. The relationship between the shining rectangle and the curved, opaque shape of the Stadium, with the Tower right in the middle, makes it possible to create interesting visual tensions and nuances between the old and the new. If we had used an elliptical shape, as often adopted for sports venues, we would only have echoed the old stadium, while the choice of a totally different form allowed us to emphasise it, accentuating its value. In addition, the façades of the hockey venue contribute to the dialogue with panels in stainless steel with elliptical rustication that reflect the old stadium. To reduce the height of the building to the minimum, the hockey rink is positioned 7.5 metres below the entrance, while the stands are partly underground and partly above ground.

The new Palahockey was designed with great attention to post-Olympic use, as for the Palau Saint Jordì in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics, that today hosts major concerts and events. For these purposes, a mobile floor system has been designed that rises up from the level of the track (-7.50 metres) and closes the underground space up to ground level, creating a hall of 130 by 61.4 metres, to be used for indoor athletics, rock concerts and events for up to 15,000 spectators. The lower stands are telescopic and can be shifted sideways leaving the space for the floor to be raised. A true ‹events factory› has been created in the industrial cityof Torino, designed in detail for wide-ranging potential future uses, thanks to the mobile floors and the stands that make it possible to modify the distribution of spaces in innumerable configurations.