Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

Profile

John Rhodes

HOK have been appointed to design a highly flexible arena that can host sporting, cultural and music events and will help regenerate Valencia’s downtown. Tom Walker spoke to HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment’s John Rhodes


Spanish billionaire Juan Roig last year announced plans to develop a multi-use sports arena in his hometown of Valencia, Spain. As well as the new home for Valencia Basket – a professional basketball team owned by Roig – the €192m (US$221m, £170m) venue is set to become the region’s premier indoor events destination.

Roig has set up an enterprise, called Licampa 1617, specifically for the project and has appointed sports architects HOK to design the arena. The arena is part of a plan to grow the profile of Valencia Basket and there are also plans to hold National Basketball Association (NBA) games at the venue.

HOK has been tasked with creating a multi-purpose, flexible design and will work in partnership with local architecture practice ERRE on the project. The new arena is set to open in 2022.

Could you tell us about Valencia Basket’s new arena?
Licampa 1617 has ambitious plans for the club. The team’s current home venue – Pavelló Municipal Font de San Lluís – only has a capacity of around 9,000 spectators, so the new 15,000-seater arena will have a significantly larger capacity and is part of a long-term sustainable strategy for the club.

Licampa wants to create not just a new home for the club, but a venue which can host a wide range of events – from family entertainment and concerts to other sports.

This will allow the building to generate revenue and support investment in the basketball team.

You’re working with local architects ERRE Arquitectura on the project – what can you say about them?
They are a wonderfully enthusiastic and energetic practice who have done some great projects in Valencia. We really enjoy working with them and it’s been wonderful to get a team that bonds well.

All successful projects are the result of a team endeavour, so if you can get a team that works well and is balanced you’ll get a much better product. It’s great for us to have the mix of a local partner and our global expertise.

Can you describe the design of the arena?
We are still at an early stage of the design process, but at the heart of the brief is a desire to create a wonderful customer experience. We’re looking to create a flexible, sustainable venue with a range of premium seating products.

The arena will be built on a gateway site, next to the main road into the city from Alicante – a very prominent position in the city. The location will influence some of the design aspects, as the goal is to create a meaningful building with a civic presence.

The club has already built a training facility and academy next to where the new arena will sit. The academy has a focus on developing young players and this will fit perfectly with the strategy of creating a long-term, sustainable plan for the club, not just in terms of player generation, but also community involvement.

The site sounds like an interesting one
It really is and it offers great opportunities.

Urbanistically, the arena project will kick start a process that will see the area evolving into a sporting district. As well as the arena and the training academy, there are municipal playing fields and training facilities for rugby next door, so the arena will become the focal point of all those combined elements.

In a larger, regeneration sense, the area in which the arena sits has not, historically, been among the city’s wealthiest districts. So the project will bring a different character and a vibe to the area.

The brief is for a multi-use venue – how flexible will the design be?
Having a resident basketball team means we need to create a great environment for basketball fans. We also need to create flexibility, so the venue can operate in many different configurations – be that for large-scale stage shows or smaller, intimate music concerts.

Much of it will be to do with the seating bowl. Ideally, you want to be able to tailor the seating for each specific environment and event that the arena will cater for.

In terms of innovation we need to deliver an arena which will evolve with the market over a long period of time – and evolve with the content of the market. The event mix at modern arenas is constantly changing and we’re seeing things like e-sports come into play, so we need to think about how we can adapt to that.

So the challenge is to not just scale up capacity – but to scale down too?
Yes. There’s now an emerging market for smaller gigs. The ability for the Valencia venue to adapt to smaller configurations – for anything between 3,000 and 7,000 – will be key.

From an architectural point of view, that means that the arena’s design has to adapt to cater for smaller acoustic gigs.

What we want to provide is a truly authentic experience, so the acoustics and ambience need to be right even when you’re not using the entire building.

Building in the ability to cater for those smaller gigs – and the likes of e-sports – is becoming a way of future-proofing a venue.

Are there any tricks to get that future proofing right? How do you ‘look into the future’ and identify trends?
Clearly you need to keep your finger on the pulse. You need to know what operators are doing and where they are going, but you could say that about any architecture.

It can be tricky, because the industry will evolve in a way that you can’t always imagine – who knows, chariot racing might come back – but the ability to be flexible is key.

The reality is that arenas are far more complex than stadiums, because with stadiums you usually have a very fixed field of play, designed for a particular sport – such as football or rugby.

With an arena you have to envisage where the focal points might be in the future and make sure the bowl can actually adapt to that functionality. Some of the key factors include having the right mix of retractable and fixed seating and creating the right technological frameworks that allow the introduction of additional technology in the future.

Typically, when we are designing arenas, we explore a wide range of configurations and scope the flexibility associated with all sorts of weird and wonderful events – such as the Walking with Dinosaurs arena show. You need to make sure you can get your brontosaurus into the service yard!

How would you define good arena design?
Design should always be underpinned by the experiences people have. As venue architects, we need to focus on the individuals and the experiences they will have at the venues we design.

In some ways arenas – and to certain extent stadiums – are contraindicated, because we’re looking to create an intimate personal experience within the context of a macro environment where there are thousands of people.

Perhaps the only other super-sized buildings which gather people like sports venues do are airports – and airports aren’t historically always associated with providing the most enjoyable experiences.

So while you want to create an arena which offers an intimate human experience, it’s very much about the celebration of people coming together. If you can manage that well, a venue can become very special. That’s the cornerstone for any truly great venue – to find a way to solve that contraindication.

Juan Roig

Roig is a native of Valencia and a passionate basketball fan. He is the president of Mercadona, the Spanish supermarket chain, which he built into a multi-billion euro business in the 1980s and 1990s. Forbes estimated his net worth (in July 2018) at around US$4.3bn.

Roig is the owner of Valencia Basket and has ambitions to develop the club into a leading European force. Roig has set up a company – Licampa 1617 –specifically to help develop a new arena for the team.

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
One of the bedrooms
Lund has worked as a designer for Soho House since 2014. She co-led the design of The Ned
"My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, in the belly of the building. It once stored gold bullion deposits of £335m"

On the challenges of creating The Ned

A large mural behind the bar acts as a focal point for the room
Fu has a masters in architecture from Cambridge University
"I wanted to go deeper than the stereotypical concept of lanterns, junks and temples"

Drawing on his childhood memories for the St Regis Hong Kong

The Panda House features separate spaces for the male and female pandas
David Zahle
"I realised we’d created an environment where it was more about talent and trust than how much experience you had."

Designing the Panda House for Copenhagen Zoo

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Interview: Francine Houben on redesigning the iconic New York Public Library
Francine Houben
"Looking back, I recognise the coherence of the work we’ve done"

As she works on the renovation of the New York Public Library, Mecanoo’s creative director talks inspiration, idealism and the advantages of getting older

Peninsula Place’s 80ft-high Galleria will feature a range of pavement cafés, shops and restaurants
I want to use engineering to push the limits of expression
"We want to impress a child with this design and find elements that excite them. I want them to think, ‘Wow, this is where the Meridian Line passes through!’"

The controversial Spanish architect opens up about his critics, what inspires him and his £1bn vision for London

The colour palette and materials are inspired by nature
Joyce Wang’s Hong Kong and London practice has worked extensively with Mandarin Oriental
"Our brief was to create an exclusive suite dedicated to extravagant entertaining"

Designs the 'ultimate retreat for socialising'

features
Ray Winkler (left) and Cristina Garcia (right)
"Mark definitely wasn’t a minimal architect – his designs were outrageous, big, splashy, noisy and extravagant"

The Wuhan Movie Theme Park and Han Show Theatre

The design of the new HQ for the International Olympic Committee was inspired by the movement of athletes
Kim Herforth Nielsen founded 3XN in 1986 with Lars Frank Nielsen and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen
"I always wanted to do more than just designing buildings"

How Danish firm 3XN is harnessing the power of architecture to shape human behaviour

cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...
cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
cladkit product news
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
Eco Resort Network conference to convene in Mauritius this May
The event will be hosted in the Mauritius in 2024
Megan Whitby
Hospitality industry event Eco Resort Network is set to take place at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, Mauritius, from ...
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
Technogym
Technogym