The Canary Islands are the result of geological accidents, of thousand-year-old violent volcanic eruptions that have forged a land that is rich in contrasts. The dynamism of its turbulent formation has been fully captured in rocks, lava flows, ravines and craters: a thousand forms that lay between deserts and exuberant, sometimes controlled, vegetation, at times dominated by the hand of man, but always bounded by the infinite horizon of the Atlantic Ocean.
Thinking and building architecture in this context for AMP, means merely interpreting its power and its beauty, searching for its essence, not only from the morphological and figurative point of view, but also in recognition of and highlighting both its generative and constructive principles.
Any reference to the genius loci becomes a subtle and suggestive metaphor: each work by AMP presents sensitive traces of this spectacular environment, but these traces are more evident in buildings that are directly related to the landscape; perhaps because of their location, more closely related to nature, or simply because of its grand scale.
The Tenerife Athletics Stadium is an architectural project that is part of an extensive and complex programme. A building on a monumental scale, with unconventional volumes as it is, maybe, more in the category of public infrastructure. It is, therefore, an intervention on an urban scale that will necessarily have an impact on both its immediate and distant surroundings.
In the face of these premises, the stadium seeks to soften this impact: it is not imposed on the site as an extraneous object, but rather it strives for a special integration in the urban fabric. Its roots are set in this fabric; it emerges from the ground like a geological accident. It manipulates the site with the power of a crater, it settles in, digging and accumulating material. It does not take up space in the city; it generates space; it even converts its grand roof into a public square: a balcony overlooking the sea next to the access to the sporting facilities.
So, the volcanic tectonics explain the strategies of implanting it on the site. From a formal point of view, the clear reference to the Tenerife landscape restores this part of the city to the territory, providing an original response to the colonisation of a degraded urban fringe with no identity. The protagonism of the outstanding architectural landmark co-exists in the sports building with a suburban central space that articulates and activates its surroundings.
The initial topographical conditions, the slope of the plot, also suggest the choice of a type of building that refers directly to the great public spaces of theatrical and sporting events of classical Greek and Roman architecture. The symbiosis between landscape and architecture is perfect in this style and they take form in the main elements of these old installations: the terraces. They are a genuine geometric transformation of the natural hillside on which the complex rests. The line between natural and artificial becomes blurred. Volcanic accident (transformation) and leisure-representative space of classical origin (adaptation to the topography): two operations that are apparently an antithesis, merge here into a hybrid with clear and powerful gestures. On the one hand, sinking into the face of the slope to use the difference in height in the organisation of the terraces, then use an embankment to generate a flat horizontal plane and a ground level that will be the main area of the project: the athletics track.
The eight lanes that define the track border an area that can host the main Olympic sports. The terraces are designed for 4000 spectators (another 2000 can find seating on the natural banking around the track), with a cafeteria, toilets, a library, press and administrative area. The facility also has a gym, the High Performance Centre, the warm up track, changing rooms and, finally, apartments for housing up to fifty athletes.
The excavation and embankment of this sporting complex are quantitatively compensated. The energy balance resulting from the in situ transformation of the materials used for laying out the main areas is also in equilibrium. A sustainable operation, with a low environmental impact, despite its cyclopean scale, like the stones that form the embankment or the porticos that bear the roof and terraces. These are grand tectonic gestures that underline the scale of the building at all times. We need to take a broad view to understand its properties, without zooming in too much on the details. For this reason, most of the building elements flee from minute and excessively drawn details. The emphasis is always on a global reading of both the whole and of its component parts.
The porticos are the key constructive elements of the Athletics Stadium. They are organised in both series and variation. The compositional pattern strictly follows the ruling of the structural logic, which, in turn, adapts to the topographical accidents. The synthesis between architecture and structure, and between construction and topography, is in the startling sequence of these giants with outstretched arms and legs to support the roof, the terraces and the excavated mountain, all at the same time.
Cement, the artificial stone par excellence, is the material that embodies the eternal metaphor of mans manipulation of nature. Here, this translates into ribs and porticos whose proportions defy static laws.
Post tensing the beams enables us to maintain a relatively small cross section. Strength is tense but elegant, defined, geometric.
The dominion of grand formal and building systems also extends to the control of the overall conditions of heat and humidity in the building. The courtyards that provide vertical ceiling illumination for the High Performance Centre, situated half-way up the slope between the rocks and the terraces, not only provide light; they also serve to accumulate pockets of fresh air that increase the temperature differential between the terraces and the sun-heated roof. This difference guarantees a constant flow of air, ventilation that the steel finish on the edge of the roof helps to enhance, favouring a constant exchange of air and ventilation.
Nature and artifice continue to seek a possible balance in the Tenerife Athletics Stadium, but they also mark their differences and their identity.
ARQUITECTS: AMP arquitectos
-Felipe Artengo Rufino
-José Mª Rodríguez-Pastrana Malagón
Project management: Mariola Merino Martín
Proyect collaborator: Fernando Martín
AMP PROJECT TEAM Competition: Adán Ramos ,Claudia Colmar, Mathias Fuchs, Rafaél Hernández, Mónica Rodríguez, Andrés Pedreño
Project development: Lucila Urda, Dario Assante, Isabel Camacho, Mariola Merino, Verónica Rochina
Construction development: Sebastian Multerer, Till Kamp, Thomas Francisco Schmid, Verónica Rochina, Mariola Merino
TECHNICAL ARCHITECTS: Rafaél Hernández Hernández; Andrés Pedreño Vega
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING: Fhecor Ingenieros Consultores; Juan José Gallardo
TECHNICAL ENGINEERS: Milián Associats S.A.; CITE Ingerieros S.L.