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Baku’s new National Gymnastics Arena inaugurated

The iconic 9,000-seat National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan, has been completed and duly inaugurated by the President of Azerbaijan and the First Lady, who is Head of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

Following a competition-winning design entry in 2011, Broadway Malyan was appointed by the client, PASHA Construction, to lead a multi-disciplinary team to design and deliver the scheme from inception to completion. The practice’s expert design teams – based in the UK and Baku – provided a range of services on the scheme, including architectural, interior and landscape design, as well as graphics including way-finding, signage and ticketing.

The £120m (AZN130m) Arena is one of only a handful of bespoke gymnastics venues in the world and is designed to host all gymnastics disciplines, as well as having the flexibility to host other sports and events, with retractable and movable seating tiers to vary capacity.

The venue also features a training hall for the national Azerbaijan gymnastics team, which can be integrated into the main Arena space and includes accommodation facilities, as well as physiotherapy and medical suites.

It will be a centrepiece venue for the inaugural European Games in 2015 and also host the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in 2014, as well as the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in 2019.

Kevin Leahy, Director at Broadway Malyan, said: “Our expert design team has worked in close partnership with the client to create a world-class and transformational international sports venue that is set to bring gymnasts and spectators together, and represent a symbol of national, civic and sporting pride.”

Philippe Silacci, spokesperson for the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG), said: “The National Gymnastics Arena is a superb project that totally meets the expectations of the gymnastics community in Azerbaijan. We are pleased to extend our warmest congratulations to the project team and to all those who have contributed to this wonderful project.”

Kirsi Erofejeff-Engman, Administrative Director of the Union of European Gymnastics, said: “It is really something special and we are happy that we can use it for our European Championships this year and next year during the European Games.”

Broadway Malyan’s approach was to prioritise the spectators’ experience and gymnasts’ needs, and address the unique challenges of venue design by combining an intelligence-led design approach, with a deep understanding of the intangibles, such as ‘atmosphere’, that make venues successful.

The resultant design symbolises Azerbaijan’s strong gymnastics heritage and takes inspiration from the ribbon of the rhythmic gymnast, featuring three ribbon louvres to control daylight and solar gain and create views.

At night, dynamic lighting will make the arena appear as three ribbons in Azerbaijan’s national colours fluttering over a stone plinth, with the lighting scheme also enabling the projection of lighting displays and dynamic imagery.

Broadway Malyan also masterplanned and designed the 25,000-seat ‘Hassa Bin Zayed Stadium’ in Al Ain, UAE, which recently opened. The practice was lead design consultant on the scheme, with the Stadium and wider mixed-use scheme set to ultimately comprise over 1.5msqft of development. The practice is also lead designer and architect on the £20.5m transformation of the 12,000-seat National Indoor Arena (NIA) in the centre of Birmingham, UK.

The Broadway Malyan-designed new National Gymnastics Arena in Azerbaijan.

The Broadway Malyan-designed new National Gymnastics Arena in Azerbaijan.

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