Three by 3LHD / by Michelle Linden

Sports Hall Bale - Bale, CroatiaSports and Community Center - Zamet, Rijeka, CroatiaDance Center - Zagreb, Croatia

While all three of these buildings by Croatian firm 3LHD are sports related facilities, they were each designed with unique parameters, that directly affected the visual and spatial outcome. I thought it would interesting to compare the defining elements of the three projects...

The Sports Hall Bale was designed for a small town in Istria with a very limited schedule (only 11 months for construction). In order to facilitate this strict time limit, the architects coordinated the design with the use of pre-fabricated elements including all the bearing and facade's structural elements. Then the facade was surfaced using indigenous stone giving it an appearance reminiscent of local residential construction. In fact, this stone facing reminds me in many ways of the Stone House by Herzog & deMeuron.

The dilemma for the architects when working the Sports and Community Center, was to find a suitable way of integrating a large public structure into the existing urban fabric of Western Zamet. Their proposed solution, which won the 2004 competition, consisted of weaving ribbon forms into the existing cityscape. This large facility manages to keep its human scale, while still providing facilities capable of hosting international sports competitions and public business.

Due to the prominence of multi-plex theaters in Zagreb, older cinemas have gone into disrepair. In this case, the architects were asked to recreate a dance theater in a historic, but abandoned theater. This project involved minimal new construction, yet need to integrate the modern program into a historic building. In addition to the new and renovated structure, 3LHD opted to preserve and restore the last remaining open air roof terrace in Zagreb.

Established in 1994, this firm is clearly doing some spectacular work (and of wide variety - not just sports facilities!), but one of the most exciting things for me is that one of the 4 partners, and a large percentage of designers are women... I can't wait to continue to follow 3LHD's work, and especially to see the Dance Theater when construction is completed.