Ilirija Sportcity
Lorenzateliers

ILIRIJA SPORTCITY

Lorenz Ateliers as Architects

A decade after the independence of Slovenia, several years before its entry into the EU, the new capital city of Ljubljana sponsored in the year 2000, for the first time, an international two-phase architectural competition. The “ILIRIJA Swimming Pool” was planned by architect Stanko Bloudek in 1928. Already then, it was located at the intersection of Bleiweisova cesta and Celovška cesta (Klagenfurter Straße). A few years later the displaced train tracks dissected ILIRIJA and Tivoli Park. Since the early 1990s, Ljubljana has yearned for an indoor swimming centre with its own Olympic sized 50-metre pool and several sports halls. The subject was hotly debated
even in the innermost professional circles.

photo_credit Lorenzateliers
Lorenzateliers

The plan of Lorenzateliers won the trust both of city planners and architectural designers. The re-activation of the long forgotten Latterman Avenue as the optimum access to Tivoli Park, a grand rolling knoll across from fortress hill, was seen as its most important aspect, composing the typical topography of Ljubljana. Inspired by an entangled discussion which  mistakenly focused on Park vs. Sports Centre, the victorious solution resembled an art project to change the face of the land. The green meadows near the intersection were to be lifted, an intermediate layer generated below them and glassed in, to place the sporting centre there.

photo_credit Markus Pillhofer
Markus Pillhofer

The new competition swimming pool, sports rooms, fitness center, eateries, shops, athlete dormitory, conference rooms and Park&Ride underground garage for 1,500 cars. Since then, twenty long years have passed. After countless discussions conducted,  resistance coped with, project alterations made, opinions exchanged, the old swimming pool was surprisingly put under historic protection in 2009, which led to  a brand new design. In 2018, the city authorities decided to go ahead with the project. Lorenzateliers re-worked its designs in 2019 in order to adhere to the new paradigms yet also draw together the reduced  background facilities under one large roof of about 15,000 m², thereby gaining the enthusiasm of city planners.

photo_credit Markus Pillhofer
Markus Pillhofer

The new SPORTCITY ILIRIJA brings together a number of functions which mutually  complement each other: the historic building serves as a foyer, making the history of the city visible, a  swimming hall with competition pool, warm-up pool and grandstands for about 1,500 spectators; added to that, sauna, offices, locker rooms and several gyms plus a fitness studio for schools, leisure activity and competitive sports. Apart from the functions of a modern reception lobby for the sports  complex, the entry building also houses a multi-function room and a café. One part of the square in front of the building will be a café terrace in summertime, increasing the attractiveness of the square yet another notch, making it a popular meeting spot between historic city center and central Tivoli Park.

Bonded to the  center of this square, the historic building plays a leading role, distributing its functions in circular manner yet retaining its external countenance. Most of all, the new design is a kind of ‘Ode to Open Space.’ The now sunken Latterman Avenue  leads into Tivoli Park beneath the tracks, passersby gaze at the sports- and swimming centre whose insides are inextricably linked to the entire stimulating span of spaces and buildings. And the huge roof makes possible an opulent 4000 m² of photovoltaics, generating the grandest showcase feature of all: the project is one of Europe’s very first “zero-energy” buildings, setting new guidelines for the EU, making it the leading specimen of “green architecture city Ljubljana.”

photo_credit Markus Pillhofer
Markus Pillhofer

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