The new sports facility for Mendizorrotza is located in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Spanish Basque country and was designed to be both energy-efficient and climate-friendly thanks to its architectural coherency and the use of semi-transparent solar modules.
Constructed from a framework of 1,000 tonnes of galvanized steel which supports the glass shell, the building appears to float on top of its concrete base. Nevertheless, architectural weightlessness is not the only unique characteristic of this striking building: the municipal building owner also wanted to send a clear message on sustainability. Vitoria-Gasteiz ranks as one of Spain’s pioneers and won the European Green Capital Award 2012. “Our goal was to integrate all of the solutions into one rational design that would significantly lower the power consumption of the sports complex,” explains Fernando Bajo Martínez de Murguía, the Spanish architect, planner and site manager from Vitoria.
With a total of 9,702 m² of floor space, the indoor swimming area houses a children’s swimming pool along with an Olympic pool which contains a submerged pontoon providing movable partitioning. In addition, several other facilities for competitive and recreational sports are spread across various floors.
The design also includes a double glazed climate control system that serves as a thermal air cushion to modulate solar gain. To utilize the concentrated solar energy that is generated from the long south-facing facade, 56 semi-transparent photovoltaic modules have been integrated into the facade. The modules generate an estimated annual power output of 6,450 kilowatt hours (kWh). In terms of the Spanish energy mix, this means a reduction in emissions of roughly three tonnes of carbon dioxide. In addition, the semi-transparent modules also offer shading from the sun and thus help prevent the halls from overheating, in addition to conserving the energy needed for cooling and lighting.