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National Speed Skating Oval Solicits Design Proposals Globally

On June 6, the symbolic venue for the OlympicWinter Games Beijing 2022  —National SpeedSkating Oval — officially launched its international competition for conceptualdesign proposals. The final design program will be chosen from the Top 3contenders of this competition.

The National Speed Skating Oval is thesymbolic venue for Beijing 2022 and a key component to China Ice Sports Center.An official of the municipal planning commission indicates that some 20hectares of land is earmarked for the skating oval and the site is locatedwithin the area planned for the Olympic Park. It was the temporary venue ofhockey and archery pavilion during the Olympic Games Beijing 2008. During the OlympicWinter Games, the National Speed Skating Oval will accommodate the competitionand training of speed skating. Speed skating, otherwise known as long trackspeed skating, is played on lanes of 60 m ×150 m with a perimeter of 400meters. There is currently no venue in Beijing that meets this standard. Theplan for building a new national speed skating oval has taken account of the sportitself, the sight of the audience, pedestrian flow and evacuation, temperaturecontrol, among other elements; there is a limit on volume with planned buildingarea coming at around 80,000 sqm., and the height of the building is not toexceed 55 meters while the completed venue is expected to house around 12,000seats. After the Olympic Winter Games, the National Speed Skating Oval will beused as a multi-purpose venue with the capacity of housing skating, ice hockey,curling and other international games, as well as public ice skating.

Official announcement of theinternational competition for conceptual design of the National Speed Skating Ovalis expected today. Details on the competition are now available on the officialwebsite of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and ParalympicWinter Games (http://www.beijing-2022.cn).Representatives from the Beijing Municipal Planning Commission have sent out invitationsto global architecture design institutions. By the end of this month,pre-qualification will be held where 12 design institutions will beshortlisted. In early July, the competition will officially kick off.Ultimately three winning programs will be chosen from this competition and theorganization executing the construction will choose one proposal from the threewinning ones to build the national speed skating hall.

Why build a new national speed skatingoval?

Officials of the Beijing Municipal PlanningCommission say that cost effectiveness is a primary factor in the preparationsfor Beijing 2022 and they have indeed contemplated renovating and using existingvenues. For instance, the National Indoor Stadium is to play host to ice hockeyevents, the Wukesong Sports Center is to play host to women’s ice hockey events,the Capital Indoor Stadium will be the venue for speed skating and figureskating, which are all currently being renovated. But the planned National SpeedSkating Oval will stage speed skating events and the venue is required to have60m ×150m lanes, the length of which is close to a track and field venue.Judging by the venues currently available in Beijing, no venue has the capacityto house an event of this caliber. And from a national level, the state wishesto develop ice sports, hence the decision to build a new venue.

What kind of proposal would have abigger chance of being selected?

Officials of the Beijing Municipal PlanningCommission indicate that the national speed skating hall is a sports facilityand involves more complex internal functions compared with regular buildings.So the program would have to address the need in terms of architectural andcultural aspects to reflect the characteristics of geography and the Chinesenation; functionality-wise, use during international sports events andpost-Olympics utilisation need to be taken into account. A good design proposalneeds to meet the requirements for a sports venue, urban planning, citylandscape at the same time, essentially needs to achieve a win-win on multiplefronts. These will be reflected in the request for proposal later andspecialists in all disciplines will be enlisted to conduct the officialreviews.

How would the speed skating oval beutilised after the Games?

According to staff at the Planning, Constructionand Sustainability Department of the Beijing 2022, for buildings with a volumelevel of the national speed skating oval, considerations would be given toissues like how to open up a specialized venue to the public during theplanning and design phase. The functionalities of the venue would be madesustainable during the design phase. After the Games, the National Speed SkatingOval could be used for skating, ice hockey, curling, and entertainmentperformance featuring ice. The large space inside the building can be dividedup on an ad-hoc basis to house various public ice sports. And Olympic sportsculture festival and senior citizen sports and fitness activities will be heldon an annual basis to engage with the public and truly drive up the penetrationand development of ice sports.

Officials of the Beijing Municipal PlanningCommission also indicate that ice sports are picking up an increasing followingin Beijing, many of whom are youths. But the Capital Indoor Stadium is the onlyplace that has the capacity to play host to ice hockey events, hence there isgreat shortage of venues, which has to some extent restricted public demand.

Statistics show that 49% of the totalpopulation of Beijing frequently work out. If we take the population of Beijingto be 22 million, this ratio indicates that sports aficionados in Beijing faroutnumber the entire population of Switzerland, Austria and a host of othercountries. Once completed, the National Speed Skating Oval will be the firstice sports centre in Beijing to be in operation throughout the year, indicatingtremendous market potential.


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