Venue: Duna Arena Aquatics Centre
The sporting infrastructure in the Hungarian capital of Budapest had a huge boost in April 2017. The new Duna Aréna Swimming Complex opened to wide acclaim. The Complex was designed by local architects Ference Marcell and Détári György. Sport Concepts was commissioned by the Hungarian government to assist the architects and review the concept design, prepare additional design studies, undertake a technical review of the completed design, and observe the construction at key points.
The Complex is located on a prominent site in Budapest on the Duna (Danube) River and is adjacent to an old outdoor swimming and recreational centre. The existing outdoor facilities were renovated and upgraded as part of the Duna Aréna project. Exterior circulation plazas provide views over the river and outside swimming. The new Complex boasts two 10 lane 50 meter Olympic pools and a diving tank. The main competition pool is 3 metres deep while the warm up pool has a moveable floor to enhance its use for recreational swimming.
The first major event in the building is the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championships. In its World Championships configuration, it accommodates 15,000 spectators. 10,000 of these seats are in temporary stands that will be removed after the Championships, leaving 5,000 permanent spectator seats in its legacy configuration. A significant design challenge, however, was the requirement to be able to increase the seating capacity again, to over 15,000 seats for the Summer Olympic Games. The Complex is designed to host training, local and international competitions for swimming, synchronized swimming, diving and high diving, and water polo.
A major function of the Duna Aréna is recreational swimming. The design includes a leisure centre, juice bar lounge, multipurpose rooms, a parent viewing area, and extensive dressing room facilities for recreational use. Floor to ceiling glass walls are used to visually link the pool halls and allow natural light deep into the building. Natural lighting is used as an architectural feature in the main competition pool hall.
Sport Concepts assisted with the design of the seating bowl, and based on their experience with the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre, focused on the 10,000 removable seats and stands. Other areas of study were the provision of spectator amenities and general spectator circulation, including emergency egress. During construction, Sport Concepts assisted the project managers with quality reviews, sports federation compliance, and materials consulting.
The Complex was opened on time after an intensive 18-month construction schedule.