Given an isolated site and the challenge of providing a facility for both socialising and sports, the Oxford Ice Rink combines an inspired structural response: two 30-metre-tall masts that announce themselves to the historic city centre, from where the masts can be glimpsed.
With a relatively small budget and difficult ground conditions, as well as the need for a large column-free space for the rink, Grimshaw chose to design a building that could be suspended, and thereby reduce the need for piling and alleviate the load of the wide-span roof.
A spine beam formed from a two rectangular box sections runs the entire 72 m length of the building and is supported by the striking pair of masts, which make reference to Oxford’s famous spires.
The expansive 56 x 26 m rink is encased by a cladding system that is equally tailored to the building’s function. Two-thirds of the rink is clad in cold store panels, with the remaining north facade being fully glazed. Like the masts, this illuminated face acts a further advertisement of what lies within.
The building is a social centre for all ages and we have heard from the city engineer that vandalism has reduced dramatically in the city since this project was completed.
Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, 1995
It was unorthodox in appearance, one of the first generation of mast-supported and long span structures to exploit the corrosion-resistant coatings developed for offshore structures in the North Sea, but it was also very cheap.
Martin Pawley, Architects' Jorunal
Oxford City Council
3,506 sq m
Ove Arup and Partners