In the fifth part of this weekly series highlighting the latest sports venue developments from across the Asia Pacific region, we highlight the brand new 68,000-capacity Baku Olympic Stadium, which was the centrepiece of this year’s inaugural European Games that were held in the Azerbaijani city back in June.
Baku was awarded the inaugural European Games at the 41st EOC Congress in Rome. The ceremony was attended by Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, who is also President of the Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee and the President of UEFA, Michel Platini. Azerbaijan was subsequently awarded four matches in UEFA’s pan European EURO 2020 soccer tournament – three group games and one quarter final.
For Baku 2015, there were four clusters and eighteen competition venues, twelve of which were permanent venues, of which five were new builds, namely the National Gymnastics Arena, BMX Velopark, Baku Aquatics Centre, Baku Shooting Centre and the Olympic Stadium. There were then six temporary venues, namely: the Water Polo Arena; Beach Arena; Basketball Arena; Mountain Bike Velopark; Triathlon; Cycling road race and time trial.
Baku Olympic Stadium hosted the spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
In terms of the timeline behind the Olympic Stadium’s construction, in late 2012, the Turkish firm, Tekfen Construction and Installation Co. Inc., was awarded the Design & Build contract, which was financed by the Azerbaijan national oil company SOCAR. The foundation construction then commenced in January 2013.
The initial stadium design by the Turkish company was then transitioned to the current design by the worldwide architectural and construction service provider, Heerim Architects and Planners, based in Seoul, Korea. Heerim led the entire design team and also provided construction management services.
International engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design services for the stadium.
To meet an aggressive eighteen-month design and build schedule, the project team performed design and construction simultaneously. To maximise design flexibility, the structural design used piled raft foundations, a system more typical of high-rise buildings than stadiums.
An advanced modelling approach, i.e. BIM, also supported the accelerated schedule. The engineering team developed an automated design routine to check beam and column reinforcement against seismic code provisions, greatly speeding the design process. Precast reinforced concrete, main and secondary steel structures were all modelled using Tekla Structures 19.0 and full fabrication drawings were delivered to the contractor’s fabrication facility in Turkey.
Construction of the six storey, 65.7m-high, 225,000m² venue – that sits on a 650,000m² site – was completed in February 2015. The 68,000-capacity stadium is now a prominent landmark in the city.
It has been designed to meet the highest international standards for stadiums set by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
With the European Games now over, the Azerbaijan national football team has taken up residency at the Baku Olympic Stadium, which is now their ‘home’ ground. The stadium will also host a number of major events in the coming years, including the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games and EURO 2020 matches.