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Amsterdam ArenA – the Netherlands’ largest stadium and home to the football club AFC Ajax – invites creative thinkers and innovative entrepreneurs to contribute ideas for the stadium of the future. For this purpose, it is launching an international innovation challenge. The best plans will be tested and implemented in the newly renovated ArenA with the help of the municipality of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Smart City, and the innovation partners Microsoft, Huawei, KPN, KPMG and TNO.

The innovation challenge is part of the Innovation Arena, an open online platform for companies, start-ups, technical engineers, students and other creatives to share ideas. The Innovation Arena is more than just an online platform for innovators. The best ideas, services and products can actually be tested during events or football matches in the stadium. Attracting over 50,000 visitors to each event, the Amsterdam ArenA will be one of the largest innovation labs in the Netherlands.

The innovation competition will be launched in connection with the large-scale renovation of the Ajax stadium. The renovation will commence in the first quarter of 2016. Rather than increasing the seating capacity, the objective of the project is to improve the level of service, quality and sustainability. More space will be created for visitors, and additional lifts, toilets, catering outlets and escalators will be installed. In addition, the ArenA wants to improve the facilities, for which purpose the stadium is calling on innovating entrepreneurs around the world to contribute ideas. One of the aims, for instance, is to reduce waiting times in queues. Other examples include creating optimal security, as well as a sense of being right at home, reducing waste, offering healthy food choices and connecting visitors and fans online.

Henk Markerink, CEO of the Amsterdam ArenA, said:

Innovation cannot be achieved alone; the best creations are the result of a cooperative effort. Together with our partners, we offer innovators from around the globe a magnificent playing field.

Entrants can go to to enter the competition in categories including Safety and Security, Healthy Food & Beverage concepts, Fan Experience, Cleaning & Maintenance, and Connectivity. The categories are designed to create an optimal visitor experience in the Amsterdam ArenA and the Amsterdam Southeast district.

Entry to the competition will close early in March of 2016 and the entered ideas will be evaluated by a jury consisting of innovation partners of the Amsterdam ArenA. All contestants will receive feedback in the form of a brief review. The winning ideas will be developed further in conjunction with the partners and tested in the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center that is based in the ArenA and in the stadium proper during events.

This is the first time in history for a stadium to launch a competition in order to generate innovative solutions.

Markerink added:

The competition is in keeping with our tradition of innovation. It is part of our DNA. To name a few examples, the construction of the stadium was funded through what is now known as crowdfunding, the so-called returfing technique was developed in the ArenA, and we were the first stadium ever to introduce our own electronic payment system.

In the area of sustainability, the ArenA has managed to realise quite a few ambitions; for example, the stadium is net climate neutral. For this purpose, the venue installed over 4,000 solar panels on the roof, and the stadium uses district heating from the nearby city of Diemen for heating and water from a nearby small lake for cooling. Photovoltaic cells will be integrated into the new façade, and rainwater will be collected for use in the toilets. Furthermore, the stadium creates its own energy storage by means of gigantic batteries.

Design competition for the new Crystal Palace launched

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ZhongRong International Group has launched a three-stage competition to identify architectural teams to design the new Crystal Palace. The first step of the competition, which is being managed by Colander, is to ask teams to come forward with expressions of interest (EOI) by 12 noon on Monday 20 January 2014.
It is expected that the long-list of Stage 2 competitors will be announced in w/c 24 February 2014. Short-listed
Stage 2 competitors will be invited to attend a briefing session in w/c 10 March 2014, at the Arup offices in London.

According to ZhongRong and Colander, the challenge posed is to reconstruct the Crystal Palace in a way that is faithful to the spirit of the original, in all its ingenuity, scale and magnificence, to create an internationally recognised landmark building. This will include:

  • A strong relationship between the Palace and the park
  • A permanent structure with a similar footprint to the original Palace
  • A translucent and delicate structure, as was the original building
  • An adaptable and flexible internal space, guided by the internal spatial qualities of the original Palace
  • Active facades
  • Design solutions that are responsive to the surrounding heritage landscape
  • A long term sustainable role for both the Palace and the park
  • The new building will be a cultural centre of international standing, responding to modern-day requirements for social, economic and environmental sustainability It will benefit both the local area and London as a global city, through an awe-inspiring design.

The launch of the Stage 3 design competition is scheduled for June 2014, and is expected to last six to eight weeks, with a winner being announced in August 2014. 
The winner will be expected to start work immediately.

The process by which the winning architect is identified will involve a Jury Panel and an advisory Technical Panel. ZhongRong International Group will be involved throughout the competition process and will have the final say in the selection of the architects.

ZhongRong-Arup has been undertaking public consultation about the £400m project, including whether a replica or modern equivalent is preferred.