Work progressing on Arup and Holder Mathias’s Turkmenistan Olympic village

19 Jun 2012

Work is progressing on the Olympic village in Turkmenistan which will play host to the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

The scheme was given the go ahead in 2010 when Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, was awarded the games, and will be delivered in three phases.

The first phase has seen engineering consultants Arup, working with architects Holder Mathias for Istanbul-based contractor Polimeks, deliver designs for the three main sports arenas, which include a 6,000-seater velodrome, and two multipurpose arenas, one seating 15,000 people and another seating 5,000.

Each of the three buildings is running to its own development programme, with work already underway on all three buildings. Holder Mathias’s designs for both the small arena and large arena are almost complete.

The buildings are being completed to ‘expertiz’ level, a building regulation standard enforced locally, and will meet the necessary international standards for hosting Olympic Games.  Holder Mathias has also been instrumental in the masterplanning of the whole Olympic complex, which will occupy a site 2km long and up to 750m wide.

Steven Luke, director at Arup says: “Arup and Holder Mathias have worked together for over 20 years, and when there was an opportunity to partner with an architect for the design and masterplanning of the Ashgabat Olympic complex, Holder Mathias was an obvious choice. The design programme is very tight, and with the added complexity of unusual design codes we needed a partner we could rely on.

“Our experience of delivering the key facilities for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was fundamental to securing the commission combined with our experience of working internationally from our Cardiff office. The team is now well-placed to continue to assist with delivery of phase two works which will include an aquatics centre, tennis centre and 200m indoor running track, along with refurbishment and redevelopment of the existing stadium.”

Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services with over 10,000 staff worldwide. Founded in 1946, Arup first came to the world’s attention with the structural design of the Sydney Opera House, followed by its work on the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Nic Downs, partner at Holder Mathias, says: “We have been part of the journey to bring this project to life in Turkmenistan ever since we were first asked to carry out a feasibility study to determine how suitable the area was for hosting an Olympic Games, which was over two years ago now. There’s been a lot of hard work – and miles – put in by the team since then, so it’s really exciting to start to see the project come to life.

“We have carefully adapted the original local designs to ensure that they meet International standards and, as well as the usual challenges of designing multipurpose arenas, we have also had to take into account all the local rules and regulations that are in place in Turkmenistan, which has involved numerous meetings with the local authorities.

“The scale of this project is massive. We have had a team of 24 people working on it, all to a variety of timescales and deadlines. Our teams are also split between London and Cardiff, and there have been members of our team out there on average every two to three weeks, so there’s plenty of travel involved.

“To be part of such a large-scale and important project for the country has been very rewarding for everyone involved so far. We are now finalising the designs on the remaining elements of the first phase so that construction work can proceed as quickly as possible on the arenas.”

The project adds to Holder Mathias’s growing portfolio of work in the sports and leisure sector, including the new Center Parcs site in Woburn, the redevelopment of Lucknam Park Hotel’s spa facilities, the BREEAM award-winning Bletchley Leisure Centre, the Forest Holidays development programme, the IAAF certified Cardiff International Athletics Stadium and its masterplanning of the new Cardiff City Stadium.

Holder Mathias has also developed a reputation for delivering large-scale projects outside of the UK. It has completed over a million sq ft of built retail space across Europe in Germany, Italy and Hungary and has a further one million sq ft of retail space in total either about to start on site or in the planning system in Slovakia, Estonia and France.

Holder Mathias managing director, Peter Gamble, says: “In what have no doubt been challenging times for architects over the last couple of years, we have found that, through exporting specialist skills, we have been able to secure a real spread of work overseas.

“Our knowledge and track record in the retail and leisure sector was instrumental in securing the work in Turkmenistan, and this together with our understanding of working with local contractors and architects, and the various nuances and considerations that need to be made while working outside of the UK, also means we are well placed to successfully deliver large-scale international projects.”