under the 27-metre-tall ski slope
Extension De Uithof, The Hague
Originally the idea was to enlarge the skating centre just with a roofed ski slope. At the suggestion of architect Hans van Beek the leftover space under the 27-metre-tall ski slope was filled with allied and supportive functions to prevent that space from becoming an 'uncanny', open residual area. Aside from the ski run, the enlargement includes indoor and outdoor climbing facilities, a sheltered karting track, a ski bar, a sauna, a fitness club, two sports shops, eating/drinking facilities and a crèche.
The dimensions of the ski slope were defining for the shape of the extension. As the ski slope follows the curve of the skating rink it is impossible to see the lower part of the slope from the top, which makes the 200-metre descent considerably more exciting and 'realistic' than is customary for sheltered ski runs.
Smart thinking resulted in a 180 degree rotation of the ski slope, which resulted in a better connection with the other facilities. In response the bridge became the real selling-point because it makes the first floor feel like it is the ground floor, whereby it gives sight on the skate track and ski slope.
All supporting facilities filling the vast leftover space lock together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. To achieve the necessary extra width of the go-kart circuit, the astute solution was to enlarge the volume on the ground floor by building a big rectangular hall. The result is a hybrid structure with a labyrinthine interior with all kinds of surprises in store for visitors to the centre - most appropriate for a recreational facility.
The variety of sports and leisure activities on offer generates a tremendous vibrancy on site, securing sufficient economic support for the shops, crèche and so on. As for upkeep and mechanical services this stacking of functions in a relatively compact envelope is a major means of keeping running costs down.