Thialf Heerenveen Renovation Awarded

21 March 2014

Ballast Nedam received definite notification this afternoon that it has been awarded the renovation of the Thialf arena in Heerenveen. Bernard Sinnema, Project Director of Ballast Nedam: “We are very proud of the high appreciation for the vision that we developed for the Thialf ambitions. Thialf is inextricably tied to skating and with Friesland and we are going to do everything in order to contribute to retaining that unique position for the coming decades. That is central to the development and implementation of our plan.”

The major components of Ballast Nedam’s plan are:
• Realisation of a new skating rink;
• Realisation of top sport training facilities;
• All the areas have a view of the skating rink, as a result of which the sport is even more central.

The plan presented for the renovation of the skating temple was created in collaboration with ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects and Warmtebouw. Croon (Electrical Technology) was also involved in the project. The plan will be developed further in the coming period and it will become clear which local Frisian companies will provide a contribution to the Thialf renovation.

Ballast Nedam begins the construction work after the completion of the next winter season and will deliver the complex mid-2016. The skating rink remains in use during the renovation in the winter season.

Vision of Thialf Renovation
In top sporting events, in addition to delivering unprecedented breakthrough performances, it is all about pure emotion. This is the experiential value of the event, for the top athletes as well as for the spectators. In architecture, in addition to logistics and functionality, it is also all about emotion: the experiential value of the building. It gives us enormous satisfaction to renovate Thialf in such a way that all the pieces of both puzzles come together flawlessly: the optimal bringing together of the experiential values of architecture and top sport.
The breaking of many a personal record and the pushing of limits are the common theme of Thialf in the past, present and future. We will push the boundaries of the building with the Thialf renovation and we will enrich the Thialf experience. Through our integral vision for the New Thialf, we reinforce the qualities of the current Thialf and achieve a new ice arena of lasting quality.

“Everything is all about the ice” 

Everything in the New Thialf is oriented to the ice and the skaters. All the facilities - tribune, press, hospitality, food service, offices and top sport training facilities - are positioned around the ice: The promenade is separated from the competition area by a glass façade. By positioning all the functions around the ice, we stimulate maximum interaction between top athletes, recreational athletes and the public. Furthermore, the philosophy “everything is all about the ice” leads to a compact design with a logical ordering of functions and an iconic appearance inside, as well as outside.
Thialf is used in two situations: during events and for daily use. In both situations, the visitor receives an appropriate welcome. During events, the spectators for the public zone are separated from the guests in the hospitality zone in a natural way. The spectators for the public zone ascend stairs to the first floor while guests for the hospitality zone enter Thialf through the entrance on the ground floor; the entrance that is also used during daily use for access to Thialf. On the one hand, this split prevents large flows of visitors from intersecting. On the other hand, the size and scale of the entrance hall also remains, with peaks, pleasant and well manageable during daily use.
The promenade is the functionally connecting element, during events as well as during daily use. The promenade is accessible for all visitor flows. During events, all the tribunes are accessible via this promenade. Dispensing points and meeting places for the public zone are located on the promenade. The underlying groups of toilets can also be easily accessed via the promenade.
The event with the current heroes can be viewed and experienced from inside the promenade; even waiting for the dispensing points. The rich history of Thialf is featured on the outside of the promenade. Thialf has been connected to the sport of skating since the establishment of ‘Koninklijke Thialf’ in February 1855. Great championships have been skated in Thialf. This rich history of Thialf contributes to the Thialf experience. Not in a closed museum section, but through space-filling historical images in the promenade. Images of Thialf during the Frisian championship of 1917, images from 1946 with Piet Keyzer, Gerard Maarse on the open air rink in Heerenveen in 1955, Ard Schenk, Dag Fornaess and Cees Verkerk in 1969, the wrong exchange of Jan Bols (1971) and of course, the first roofed championship, beautifully documented in “Thialf ’t dak eraf” (The roof off Thialf). With this open skating museum on the promenade, the Thialf history contributes to the experience of skating in the New Thialf.

“Purity and dynamics”
Skating at top level consists of two elements: purity and dynamics. The strengths of the skater only come into their own when they are executed in the most pure movement. The position of the skate on the ice, the mark, the slide, each skater looks for the line that provides their dynamics with the ideal result: maximum speed. These two elements form the inspiration for our design of Thialf. They appear in the functional design where the groundbreaking ice experience is the focus, in the logistics by separating public streams at the entrance and the expansion of the tunnel for the professionals, as well as in the setup of facilities that support world-class performances and where the top sport training facilities and the lab take a prominent position (inspiring each other through interactions and viewing relationships).
 The elements of purity and dynamics are already visible outside of Thialf in the main area of the building. The dynamics of entering are expressed in the design of the entrance, together with the landscape of stairs. Two “arms” of glass extend themselves outside in order to welcome the stream of visitors. The purity of the ice rink is reinforced by the perfect white and continuous shape of the competitive arena. The experience of purity and dynamics is experienced further through the pattern, inspired by ice crystals, on the façade of the skating rink.

“Achieving lasting quality”

Everything that we renovate at Thialf is future-proof. That requires an integral architectural and installation technical approach. We choose for a setup where the components reinforce each other maximally: a building that optimally facilitates the skating experience, a central installation concept, smart architectural and installation technical zoning with “everything all about the ice”, modular setup, a sustainable and (largely) self-sufficient energy concept and a building with the necessary flexibility.
Installation (sub-)systems and areas can be relocated, expanded, added and/or replaced quickly and easily. The multifunctional second floor to be used is a good example of this. A single function building where everything revolves around the ice, but can be used for multiple functions. That is how we realise a new Thialf of an unprecedented level: an ice arena of lasting quality.