The design development of a unique and spectacular retractable roof structure for the historical Arena di Verona crowned schlaich bergermann partner and gmp Architekten von Gerkan Marg und Partner in an international competition of ideas that attracted more than 80 participants from around the world.
The Ideas Competition organised and awarded by the Municipality of Verona was intended to attract the best solution to cover, improve usability, augment and preserve one of the largest and best kept amphitheatres of the roman period, a more than 2,000-year-old arena that not only is an architectural icon, but also an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Entry submissions were anonymous and the context gave us an opportunity to design with utmost sensitivity to preserve Verona’s most important landmark.
The winning design for the Arena di Verona presents a unique retractable roof system situated within a multi-functional compression ring. The elliptical membrane cover can be parked inside a membrane garage located along the wider part of the compression ring near the stage that also accommodates lighting and other stage technology.
The most spectacular feature of this design is that, for the first time in history, not only the roof cladding, but also the supporting cable structure is fully retractable. This clever combination of a fan-shaped, moveable cable-net and membrane cover fully protects spectators from rain and excessive sunlight and may also disappear without a trace with minimal visual impact on the building.
This innovative design undoubtedly reflects our experience with moveable structures and retractable roofs for historical buildings such as the Plaza de Toros de Zaragoza, the Palacio Vistalegre Madrid, both in Spain, and the Arena of Nimes, in France.