The LähiTapiola Areena multi-purpose facility – Kuortane Sport halls

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. Thanks to the new LähiTapiola Areena multi-purpose facility, the institute now has even more space for new and old sports.

Read the article in Finnish here.

When it became apparent that the institute would need an additional arena for a few new sports and some old ones (mainly floorball, basketball, acrobatic gymnastics, and cross-training), it was clear that it would build this new facility using CLT. The institute had already added the Lem-Kem Areena to its campus a few years earlier. This was the first gymnastics facility built using CLT in Finland and had provided the institute with valuable experience with CLT buildings and their construction. Based on the positive user feedback, users value the CLT-based facility for the light within, the cosy atmosphere produced by the wood, and the good acoustics. The aim was to offer this same level of service to users of the new facility, and the well-known antibacterial effects of wood were also a definite bonus considering the building’s intended use.

In fact, the Kuortane Olympic Training Centre and Sports Institute has now adopted a policy of using wood in its construction projects whenever possible. By using construction materials that bind carbon and are environmentally friendly, the institute takes an essential step towards its goal of being carbon neutral. The institute has also made significant investments in energy solutions and is already close to achieving its goal.

The Lähi-Tapiola Areena uses CLT elements in all its exterior and interior walls, and their wooden surfaces have been left visible to users throughout. This allows the structure to leverage the advantages of using only one material, including wood’s ability to moderate moisture fluctuations.

Since this is a sports facility, the architecture needed no gimmicks. Instead, the cosy and calm atmosphere is provided by the abundance of natural wood surrounding the athletes.

When someone enters this space for the first time, they are usually wowed by the exceptional light, cosiness, and beauty enabled by the solid wood CLT. Feedback from users has indeed been incredibly positive.

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 outer walls are built from 200 mm thick CLT elements. Also the intermediate floors, the gallery, the interior stairs, and the partition walls are CLT-based structures. Interior CLT surfaces have been treated with NT Deco fire retardant.

Glulam pillars were used for the load-bearing structures and to support the roof beams. These pillars also provide a stiffening element while breaking up the long, uniform wall surfaces and providing some flair.

A glulam boomerang beam supports the Seikat roof element. This solid wood element was chosen for its simplicity: the structure is delivered as one piece to the site and then lifted into its place. The underside of the roof is also covered with Paroc WAS 25t insulation board (50mm) that serves as both a fire insulator and an acoustic panel.

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 February 2022 with construction beginning in April of the same year. Installation of the CLT elements began in July 2022. The roof went up in September 2022, and the facility was ready for use in April 2023.

In the interior, plenty of thought went into the choice of floor materials and the layout of the various areas designed for different sports. These areas will be in use at the same time, so they needed to be far enough apart for safety reasons without wasting space unnecessarily. This wide range of sports also meant that numerous floor materials were needed. For instance, the basketball court is surfaced with North American maple, which is the same material used in NBA-regulation courts around the world. To convert this court for floorball, a Taraflex mat is simply rolled over it. The cross-training area has a floor covered with rubber tiles.

Above all else, this project showed the strengths of careful planning and the convenience of CLT elements: such a large facility was up and running quickly, just like its predecessor Lem-Kem Areena. The schedule was quite tight but held nonetheless. Installation of CLT elements is fast and smooth, although weather conditions must be taken into account. Without weather protection, installation of CLT elements is not possible during heavy rains.

The budget went slightly over due to price increases in building materials and construction. The original budget also did not include solar panels (of which there were about 300), which were added later during the project.

Project in brief

The LähiTapiola Areena multi-purpose facility

  • Location | Kuortane
  • Purpose | Multi-purpose sports facility
  • Valmistumisvuosi | 2023
  • Floor area | 2 358 m2
  • Volume | 23 770 m3
  • Investointikustannukset | about €3 million
  • Architectural Design | Tuomo Haavisto
  • Structural design | Late-Rakenteet Oy
  • LVIA-suunnittelu | LVI-Insinööritoimisto Jorma Niemonen Oy
  • Electrical design | Tamplan
  • Interior design | Kuortaneen Urheiluopistosäätiö
  • Muut suunnittelijat ja asiantuntijat | Foundation: Insinööritoimisto Jouni Kultalahti
  • Pääurakoitsija | Kuortaneen Urheiluopistosäätiö
  • Wood component supplier | CLT: HOISKO CLT, Glulam structures: Late-Rakenteet Oy, Roof elements: Seikat
  • Photographs | Riina Salo
  • Text | Kuortane Olympic Training Centre and Sports Institute: CEO Jussi Töyrylä and Property Manager Tuomo Haavisto
    HOISKO CLT: Pauliina Perälä