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Esthetic and Functional Structures for Sporting Arenas Throughout the World

Special competitions deserve a special setting. And that is precisely why interest has steadily grown worldwide over recent years in the planning and upgrading of sporting venues to the latest cutting-edge standards as regards both architecture and facilities.

In response to this growing interest, Bayer MaterialScience has developed impressive, fully integrated solutions based on plastic sheets made from the high-tech material Makrolon®, which it is presenting at the Estadio trade fair in Rio de Janeiro from October 6 to 8, 2010. This is also why the company is often asked to provide advice on stadium design in the run-up to major sporting events.

"Solid and multiwall sheets made from polycarbonate are incredibly strong but also elastic and can withstand high wind loads without the need for complex substructures. Safety is the deciding factor for us," explains Dr. Volker Benz, Global Project Manager for major projects in the polycarbonate sheets sector of Bayer MaterialScience. Having been used in a whole range of reference projects, the sheets have proved to be an ideal material for stadium building. "Weighing just a few kilograms per square meter, the material is also lightweight and ideal for fitting out stadiums and other sporting venues for the Soccer World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil," adds Dr. Benz.

Cutting-edge sporting venues for the 2012 European Soccer Championship
Preparations for building the stadiums for the upcoming 2012 UEFA Championships in Poland and Ukraine are already well under way. Indeed, Bayer MaterialScience has produced more than 45,000 square meters of the special stadium sheeting 3X25 ES from Makrolon® for Poland’s PGE Arena Gdansk alone. The sheets are being used for both stand roofing and the outer shell of the stadium - something that has never been done before. But the diverse properties of this material have helped to realize another key feature of the stadium: each individual sheet has been colored to make the entire stadium glow amber. "As a result, the arena incorporates the hallmark of the region and is perfectly at home in its surroundings. After all, amber is also known as the ‘gold of the Baltic Sea’," says Dr. Benz. To achieve this look, the Makrolon® was colored with six different shades, from white to dark amber. "We were able to implement the designers’ creative idea using our compounding technology," adds the project manager. Building work on the arena is due to be completed by the middle of next year.

Another reference project is the Legia Warszawa arena in Warsaw, where some 7,600 square meters of roofing surface have been fitted with polycarbonate sheets. The special multiwall sheets used for this are up to 12 meters long and 1.2 meters wide - a special width designed to increase the load-bearing capacity, since strong winds and heavy snowfall are not uncommon in the region during the winter months. The polycarbonate used in this project is completely transparent and therefore allows sufficient light through for the grass to grow naturally and to create an open and pleasant atmosphere for fans.

But the polymer material is also regularly used in other parts of the world whenever designers want to create esthetic and yet functional sporting venues. The new Lia Manoliu national stadium that will host the 2012 Euro League final is currently being built in Bucharest, Romania. This project placed a particular emphasis on harmonizing functionality with design in order to meet all requirements to the full. Solid polycarbonate sheets were the material of choice as they are incredibly transparent and offer extensive design freedom when it comes to combining functionality with esthetics. The 8-millimeter-thick solid sheets are 12 meters long and are laid as a single span.

A soccer stadium that generates its own power
German Bundesliga soccer club SV Werder Bremen is also using polycarbonate sheets for energy-efficient stand roofing as part of renovation work on its stadium. Soon, transparent photovoltaic modules installed over an area of more than 3,000 square meters will be feeding power into the stadium’s energy supply, thus saving some 100 Watts of electricity per square meter. The sandwich composite, developed jointly by Sunovation GmbH and Bayer MaterialScience, comprises floating silicon cells embedded between a Makrolon® solid sheet on one side and a Makrolon® triple-wall sheet on the other. The composite is shatterproof, flexible and boasts a long service life thanks especially to the load-bearing properties of the multi-wall sheet.

Thanks to the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, polycarbonate sheets are likely to be an integral component of spectacular structures for many years to come. For example, a good 23,000 square meters of polycarbonate sheets give the wing-like design of the Shenyang stadium a feel of elegance and lightness. Cold bending processes used on the sheets enabled the designers to tailor the shape of the stadium to its surroundings. And since the product had to satisfy strict requirements in terms of mechanical strength, Bayer MaterialScience developed a sheet that met all the specifications in full - Makrolon® multi UV 3X/25-25 ES. This sheet is just 25 millimeters thick, but can withstand a load in excess of five kilonewtons per square meter. Neither heavy snow nor strong winds present any problem for these strong multifunctional sheets.

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