045-12 Lohr, 2012-06-15

Sports arenas of the future: flexible, movable and lightweight

The Caja Magica stadium in Madrid

Open-air at the touch of a button: the Caja Magica stadium in Madrid Image source: Madrid Espacios y Congresos.

In order to attract a larger audience, sports facility operators across the globe are increasingly focusing their attentions on spectacular designs. Today's modern multi-purpose arenas are equipped with a retractable roof, a pitch that can be moved and stands that can be lowered, which means that these kinds of arenas are able to quickly transform their appearance, depending on the weather and type of event. When carrying out such projects, architects from around the world work closely together with Rexroth: For years now, the specialist for moving architecture has been developing tailor-made drive and control solutions for buildings. In close cooperation with the scientific community, Rexroth also develops solutions for innovative ultra-lightweight construction methods, which allow sustainable designs that use fewer resources.

First and foremost, each and every building has to fulfill a protective function, meaning that human safety has an impact on the architectural solutions. This is particularly true for retractable roofs, which add a lot of weight to the structure. On account of the sheer size of stadium roofs, it is often the case that several drives are needed to operate at the same time in order to move them: Only an efficient control system with appropriate sensors ensures that the roof remains tension-free. Operators put great emphasis on technology that is low-maintenance and easily available on account of the fact that the roofs are often in place for decades. When working on these kinds of projects, architects and structural designers look for specialist system partners who are able to develop complete drive and control solutions reliably, run simulation checks and operate on a global scale. In this manner, and with a host of projects on moving architecture under its belt, Rexroth has established itself on the international stage as the first port of call for complete automation solutions.

Open up to good weather

One example of this kind of stadium is Caja Magica (the "magic" box) in Madrid, a multi-purpose arena that can accommodate up to 20,000 spectators: Moving roofs transform the building into an open-air tennis court at the touch of a button. Over the center court, a Rexroth hydraulic drive and control solution lifts the 103 x 72-meter roof at an angle. The roof weighs 1,800 tonnes — as much as five jumbo jets. Once the roof has been tilted, the undercarriages move the roof 65 meters to one side in 15 minutes, transforming the tennis court into an outdoor arena. What is particularly challenging in this task is that only two drives working in parallel can lift the heavy weight. These drives must be completely synchronized in order to prevent tensions forming in the roof. The specially designed control system ensures that the edges never deviate from one another by more than +/- 10 mm.

Different tasks require different solutions, which is why Amsterdam Arena, which has been awarded five-star stadium status by UEFA and was one of the first stadiums in the world to have a retractable roof, relies on electromechanical drives. It takes just 20 minutes for the two halves of the roof to open or close an area of around 26,000 square meters. Each of the moving parts is 40 x 118 meters and weighs 520 tonnes. Rexroth construction and automation: proving its worth for over a decade.

Ultra-lightweight construction thanks to counterbalances

The science of innovative ultra-lightweight construction methods is breaking new ground. Traditionally, architects achieve a high level of stability by using solid construction materials. The higher the expected load, caused by wind for instance, the more material is used. The University of Stuttgart is currently taking a new approach with a one-of-a-kind adaptive structure. Instead of using solid structures, precise compensating movements ensure a high level of stability, while keeping materials to a minimum. A Rexroth system solution with a highly efficient control system and hydraulic drives generates precise counterbalances at the building's support points. These movements reduce the load, deformation and strain on materials, and also remove vibrations.

The architecture of the future will increasingly use moving structures in order to enhance the appeal of multi-purpose arenas, museums, shopping malls and other buildings, or to reduce consumption of resources. Rexroth will be on hand to provide many of the drive and control solutions required for these projects.

Bosch Rexroth AG is one of the world’s leading specialists in the field of drive and control technologies. Under the Rexroth brand name, the company supplies more than 500,000 customers with tailored solutions for driving, controlling, and moving. Bosch Rexroth is a partner for Mobile Applications, Machinery Applications and Engineering, Factory Automation and Renewable Energies. The company provides customized solutions tailored to the needs and specifications of each individual market. As The Drive & Control Company, Bosch Rexroth develops, produces, and sells components and systems in over 80 countries. As part of the Bosch Group, Bosch Rexroth and its 38,400 associates generated approximately 6.4 billion euros in revenue in 2011.

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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology, more than 300,000 associates generated sales of 51.5 billion euros in fiscal 2011. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 350 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Bosch spent some 4.2 billion euros for research and development in 2011, and applied for over 4,100 patents worldwide. With all its products and services, Bosch enhances the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial.

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Susanne Herzlieb
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