Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene or better known as ETFE is a fluorine-based plastic that boasts high corrosion resistance and ‘maintained’ strength over large temperature fluctuations. Well this time around, the plastic will be used for a wholesome micro-climate control in the Sports Hall of Lamezia Terme, a 4,000 capacity stadium designed by Vittorio Grassi Architetto and Partners in the Calabria region of Italy. Asymmetrical bubble – this in a nutshell defines the expansive shape of the stadium in question. But beyond what may seem as a visual gimmick, this seemingly flexible form (allowed by the ETFE plastic) was adopted to meet the seismic requirements of the geographical zone. In other words, the Sports Hall deliberately demonstrates a lightweight yet sturdy structure to the counter the earthquake activities prevalent in the area.
Since we brought up the scope of the structure, it is the all-encompassing roof that connects the formation of the stadium from the entrance to the embankments (raised 16.5 ft above ground). This is made possible with its interconnecting mesh framework made of svelte steel components. This internal mesh in turn is complemented by an outer triple-layered translucent membrane made of ETFE, thus adding a dash of ethereal quality to the stadium. This ambit of transparency becomes quite evident both during the induction of daytime lighting and night lighting.
But like we mentioned before, beyond just visual glory, the Sports Hall showcases its own brand of smart design credentials. For example, the arrangement of ETFE is accompanied by ‘strategically’ contrived air pillows that act as insulation blocks. In effects, these air cushions (with constantly maintained pressures) keep out the heat during summer time, while preserving the heat inside during winter. This in turn translates to far lesser energy consumption and micro-climate control via passive architectural techniques.
All of these design considerations are bolstered by the closed ring setup of the stands that are connected by the unbridled stairways. Access to the playing field in turn is provided through the corners of the stands, thus allowing for better user circulation and semi-privacy for the participants and the athletes. And finally, the foyer with its double-height and the upper ring is kept glazed so as to maintain a degree of connectivity with the activities inside the stadium and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.