The plan for the Optrium sports and leisure centre, located next to the Ahoy conference venue and concert arena, was the initiative of ice-skater Bart Veldkamp. The goal is to realize a large indoor sports complex where various sports can be hosted at Olympic level. The Netherlands lacks such a complex, forcing many top sportspeople to train abroad.

The complex combines three big sports halls: one with a competition ice-skating track, with a rink in the middle for ice hockey and shorttrack competitions. This hall provides seating for 10,000 spectators in permanent stands, and can be expanded to 20,000 places for large-scale events. A second hall with a velodrome has a central area that can also be adapted for gymnastics competitions. This space can also be set up as an athletics track for international-level competitions. There is space for 5,000 spectators in this hall. A third hall houses an Olympic competition pool with a length of 50 metres and a diving pool with seating for 2,000 spectators. There are also plans for a 50-metre warm-up pool and a recreational pool.

Besides the sports functions the complex also offers a number of complimentary facilities, such as a hotel with conference facilities, extensive refreshment and restaurant functions, a fitness centre, a crèche, a sports medicine centre and a multistorey carpark for about 3,000 cars. A central foyer interconnects the various sports halls.

In the design for this ambitious multifunctional complex a great deal of care was taken with the circulation of large flows of traffic and visitors. Sportspersons, spectators and other visitors must be able to find their way through the building automatically. The routes for supplies, servicing and security are also integrated in the building as efficiently as possible.

The complex’s various functions are contained in one big clear-cut form, in which the three different halls are distinctively recognizable. All the sections of the programme that demand a view to the outside are oriented towards the Zuiderpark. The hotel is the only object that stands separate from the main building in a tower, already signalling the complex’s location from afar.

Large steel trusses with a constructive structure of pneumatic cushions in-between span the wide expanses of the halls. The pneumatic cushions are made from a transparent plastic membrane in order to exploit natural daylight as much as possible. In the evenings the effect is reversed and tracklighting illuminates the roof of the halls.