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U Arena, Nanterre-La Défense, France

A multi-purpose arena

At the western tip of the La Défense business district near Paris, the structure built for the Racing Arena company boasts a surface area of about 115,000 sq. metres and can be configured as either a rugby stadium (30,681 spectators) or a concert hall (up to 40,000 spectators) as required. A joint venture led by GTM Bâtiment with architect Christian de Portzamparc is building the complex €282 million project under a design-build contract. Several other VINCI Construction France subsidiaries – Petit, Chantiers Modernes Construction and TPI – are also involved.  

Sports and concerts

The modern, user-friendly arena was designed as a very large concert hall – the largest indoor facility of its kind in Europe – that can also host about 20 rugby matches per year, as stipulated by the project’s initiator, Jacky Lorenzetti, Chairman of Ovalto and President of Racing 92, who is an enthusiastic rugby fan. The multi-purpose design will ensure a steady independent, long-term income stream, further consolidated by the inclusion of an office building to enhance the overall return on investment for the customer. The U Arena is one of the sites selected to support Paris’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics, in which it would be used for the gymnastics and weightlifting events.

 Technical challenges

Several technical challenges had to be overcome in the course of the project. Its location in the heart of an office and residential neighbourhood and the inclusion in the same programme of an office building adjacent to the arena called for very effective acoustic insulation. To cope with the ground below the buildings, which is criss-crossed with utility lines, Soletanche Bachy, in charge of deep foundations, achieved feats of technical ingenuity. The lack of space also entailed the installation of six construction cranes within the footprint of the structure, with major impact on the project’s phasing.

Website: http://www.uarena.com