Lem-Kem Arena

The Kuortane Olympic Training Centre and Sports Institute is an important training centre on both the Finnish and the international level, offering optimum conditions for professional and amateur athletes in several sports. The Lem-Kem Areena was designed in cooperation with the Finnish Gymnastics Federation and is one of the most versatile and best equipped gymnastic arenas in Europe.

Read the article in Finnish here.

Thanks to its CLT structure, the arena manages to surprise athletes with its pleasant appearance and atmosphere. The wooden surroundings make an amazingly pleasant backdrop for training. When someone enters this space for the first time, they are typically wowed by the exceptional light and cosiness. The arena has already drawn visiting gymnasts from more than 20 different countries.

The project’s tendering stage included offers with a steel frame, but since the price difference was not significant, solid wood was chosen for its user-friendliness and superior acoustics. In addition, the choice of material supports the institute’s policy of sustainable, environmentally friendly construction and its aim to achieve carbon neutrality in the next few years.

The CLT surfaces are visible throughout the arena, which makes the interiors feel light and pleasant. This also allows the structure to leverage the advantages of using only one material, including wood’s ability to moderate moisture fluctuations.

Feedback on the wooden surfaces has indeed been positive. Wood is also known for its antibacterial effects, which was a definite bonus considering the building’s intended use.

In addition to the geothermal energy used for heating, the facility also has solar panels on the roof as part of the institute’s extensive solar energy system. These panels produce about one-fifth of the electricity used across the site (approx. 50,000 square metres).

Technical solutions

The facility’s load-bearing structure is formed by 200 mm thick CLT elements, whereas the roof structure is a traditional glulam lattice built on site. The underside of the roof is covered with Paroc WAS 25t insulation board (50mm) that serves as both a fire insulator and an acoustic panel. The intermediate floors, the gallery, the interior stairs, and the partition walls are CLT-based structures.

The wooden CLT elements provide pleasant, echo-free acoustics, and the resulting calm soundscape is quite different from what one would expect in a sporting facility. This has a significant positive impact on user comfort and lets people focus on their sport.

The construction project

Design work for the facility began in November 2018, with construction kicking off in April 2019. Installation of the CLT elements began in early July 2019 and was completed in mid-August. The roof was raised in early September, and the building was ready for use in February 2020.

Planning the precise locations of the various racks and pits was exacting work as the functionality, safety, and comfort were important aspects that needed to be considered.

Lessons learned

The arena is Finland’s first sports facility with a solid wood structure. The CLT elements proved their functionality and ease of installation in the project, allowing it to keep to its tight schedule. During its first years, the arena has attracted enormous attention and people want to visit it. Many had not realised that it was possible to build arenas in this way.

Energy efficiency played a role in the choice of material, but it has still been a pleasant surprise how little heating has been necessary. Maintenance costs for the first year were actually two thirds less than expected. Solid wood elements have a dense structure that traps heat inside.

Project in brief

Lem-Kem Areena

  • Location | Kuortane
  • Purpose | Gymnastics arena
  • Constructor/Client | Kuortaneen Urheiluopistosäätiö
  • Valmistumisvuosi | 2019
  • Floor area | 2 772 m2
  • Volume | 28 450 m3
  • Investointikustannukset | about €3 million
  • Architectural Design | Tuomo Haavisto
  • Structural design | HOISKO CLT
  • LVIA-suunnittelu | LVI-Insinööritoimisto Jorma Niemonen Oy
  • Electrical design | Lem-Kem Iiro Mursula
  • Interior design | Kuortaneen Urheiluopistosäätiö
  • Muut suunnittelijat ja asiantuntijat | Foundation: Insinööritoimisto Jouni Kultalahti
  • Pääurakoitsija | Karhu Oy
  • Wood component supplier | CLT: HOISKO CLT, Glulam: Versowood Oy, Roof elements: Seikat
  • Photographs | Kuortaneen Urheiluopistosäätiö
  • Text | CEO Jussi Töyrylä & Property Manager Tuomo Haavisto, Kuortane Olympic Training Centre and Sports Institute, Pauliina Perälä, HOISKO CLT