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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Holmenkollen Ski Jump, Oslo, Norway

Ski jump brings architectural beauty to Norwegian slopes
Ski jumps have rarely endeavored to be a thing of beauty. Technical requirements overtake the architectural thought behind the design. But the new Holmenkollen ski jump, designed by Julien De Smedt Architects, will take jump design into another realm satisfying such requirements as wind protection, curvature and access whilst providing an iconic landmark to the north-west of Oslo, Norway.

The silhouette of the new ski tower has a sharp and simple cut. The profile follows the jumpers’ descent and is offset to create necessary wind protection. The smooth and bended rectangle hosts the slope, the main structure and circulation with an inclined elevator running from the bottom to the top where a 50 m2 bar/jumpers lounge and jump platform is located. The top is cut horizontally to accommodate a viewing platform with a 360ยบ panorama view over the Oslo city landscape.

The architect, Julien De Smedt, told WAN the thought behind the design:

“When we addressed the issue of skijumping one thing became immediately obvious: the building will have to frame the discipline but not overwhelm it - to celebrate the sport rather than celebrate the architecture. But it should also be a spectacle for the entire city and by doing so extending the tradition of Holmenkollen as the symbol of Oslo as well as a place where the city is celebrated and embraced. A place to see Oslo.”

The new jump will replace an existing obsolete jump in order to satisfy the new standards and regulations in accordance with the International Skiing Federation. Since its erection in 1892 the Holmenkollen jump has been rebuilt 18 times to keep up with changing standards. However De Smedt believes the new design will stand the test of time: “The ski jumps evolved as the discipline did so the pace of change has been higher in the early days and is now slowed down to nothing, until the discipline changes again. The jump we are replacing is dated back to 1982 and the change is therefore due to its technical and iconographic obsolescence.”

De Smedt is among the few who have attempted to integrate beauty and function in the world of snow sports. Zaha Hadid broke the barrier with her first design in 2002 of the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria. The new Holmenkollen jump and arena will be built in time for the 2011 World Championship at a combined cost of 350 Norwegian Kroner.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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