Ice Ribbon illuminated arena unveiled as Olympic speed skating venue
Stadium specialist Populous has revealed the only new permanent venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, ahead of the games' imminent official opening. Named the Ice Ribbon, the arena will host speed skating events and is defined by an eye-catching illuminated facade.
The Ice Ribbon (aka the National Speed Skating Oval) is located in Beijing Olympic Park. Its oval exterior is wrapped in 22 glass "ribbons" with integrated lighting which can be individually illuminated in different hues with striking results, especially at night. Its design inspiration is actually surprisingly personal for a project of this nature, and is derived from the architect's own family and memories of childhood games.
"Much of the inspiration for the conceptual design of the 'Ice Ribbon' came from a traditional ice game played in old Beijing which involved a high-speed spinning 'ice top,'" explained Populous' Tiric Chang. "The ribbons of the design make reference to the floating silk ribbons of the artwork my family had dedicated their time to – which was the study and preservation of the Dunhuang Grottoes, a significant collection of Buddhist art from the Tang dynasty. It guided the design team to boldly extend the concept of a high-speed rotating ice top to creating 22 rotating light bands for the facade, which not only represent the ice surface and the shape of the oval, but also perfectly demonstrated the high-speed movement of speed skaters."
The interior of the arena has a seating capacity of 12,000 and hosts a total of 12,000 sq m (roughly 130,000 sq ft) of ice surface, which is the largest indoor ice surface in Asia. According to Populous, it's also one of the first venues in the world to be created with carbon dioxide transcritical direct cooling ice technology.
Put simply, this involves using CO2-based gas cooling to create the ice, instead of traditional freon-based refrigerant methods (the stuff used in air-conditioning units and domestic freezers). Doing so provides a more uniform temperature across the ice surface, and also uses 20 percent less energy. Additionally, the waste heat generated during the refrigeration process is being recycled both to produce the athletes' domestic hot water, and for use in maintenance of the ice surface.
The Beijing Winter Olympics will take place from February 4 - 20, while the Winter Paralympics is being held from March 4 - 13. Once the games come to a close, the speed skating venue will be used to host local sporting events and will serve as a public ice rink.