Arena Zagreb is a multi-purpose sports hall located in the southwestern part of Zagreb, Croatia (in the Lanište neighborhood of Novi Zagreb ). The site also includes a building complex, the Arena Complex (Arena Center), making it one of the largest shopping-entertainment centers in the city. The Croatian Government and the City Government of Zagreb held a public tender for the construction of a sports hall in order to host games in the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship, and later for numerous other sporting, cultural, and business events.
They selected the consortium composed of property developers TriGránit (from Hungary) and Ingra (from Croatia). The TriGránit/Ingra offer was initially approved on April 25, 2007, but the signing of the final contract was delayed because of Mayor Milan Bandić expressing discontent with the conditions. The Consortium engaged studio UPI-2M from Zagreb, specially for this project to create and produce a unique design for Arena Zagreb.
The construction of the sports hall finally started on July 20, 2007, and was completed as planned on December 15, 2008. The Arena is used for hockey, futsal, handball, athletics, basketball, volleyball, numerous other sporting competitions, and various concerts, exhibitions, fairs, conventions, and congresses. The shopping center and Arena Zagreb share a series of services such as a joint parking lot, multiplex cinema, wellness center, numerous restaurants, cafes, and stores.
Resembling a giant rib cage around the building, 86 large pre-stressed, pre-fabricated concrete curved columns form the main façade, connected by a semi-translucent polycarbonate envelope that allows for various light effects. It’s one of the landmarks of Zagreb already, along with the cathedral. Developing spatial and functional characteristics to enable maximum flexibility of the venue was vital during the schematic design stage.
The telescopic system of 4,500 seats was a critical element in allowing different configurations and quick turnaround between events. The singular vision also led to provision of spacious facilities for athletes, other performers and event managers, a concept for simple and fluid visitor circulation, a mix of catering facilities and designing in smaller, mutually independent zones that could all be used at the same time. Getting the acoustics right was important too. The steel roof structure had sufficient bearing capacity to enable the suspension of additional stage equipment. The roof structure is close to the structure of a suspension bridge, which is an uncommon approach (in arena design) anywhere in the world. The roof ’s bearing structure is only 45 cm high, over a span of 110 m, because it is suspended from the upper side of the roof outside and can not be seen from the interior. This solution was made feasible by contemporary cable production technology – the span is suspended on cables that have a diameter of just 66 mm. Each cable can carry 400 tons.
The capacity of the hall is 15,022 seats and 22,000 for concerts. Arena Zagreb won the Structural Design of the Year award at the 2009 World Architecture Festival., and Grand spectacle award at Global BBR 2010 Arena Zagreb hosted the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship, the 2012 UEFA Futsal Championship (with Spaladium Arena in Split) and the 2014 European Women's Handball Championship (jointly hosted by Croatia and Hungary). Arena Zagreb was the host venue for many concerts including London Symphony Orchestra, Sting, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, David Guetta, Leonard Cohen, Roger Waters, Guns N' Roses, Lady Gaga, Shakira, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, George Michael, Slayer & Megadeth, José Carreras, Eros Ramazzotti, Tom Jones, Sade, Jean Michel Jarre, Joe Cocker, Mišo Kovač, Tony Cetinski, Oliver Dragojević, Lepa Brena, Đorđe Balašević, Zdravko Čolić and many more.