ABBA Arena: unique attraction with a new approach to timber design
6 April 2023 Construction
The revolutionary concert ABBA Voyage takes place in London’s ABBA Arena, a purpose-built, state-of-the-art 3000 capacity arena. The building of steel and PEFC-certified cross laminated timber (CLT) has been conceived as ‘a mysterious, intriguing object’.
Designed by Stufish Entertainment Architects, the Arena is in keeping with the concept of sustainability and material circularity, with the structure designed to be fully demountable.
The auditorium at the heart of the arena is four storeys tall, consists of 1,650 unique PEFC-certified CLT panels and sits within – and structurally independent of – the steel-framed enveloping walls and roof of the arena.
Outside the auditorium, an extended concourse area is sheltered from the elements by a large timber canopy built by Stage One.
Like the superstructure itself, the canopy is a modular system that can be removed in sections and reconfigured to meet the needs of a new site once it has relocated.
The PEFC-certified CLT was produced and supplied by Hasslacher Norica Timber, with Xylotek leading the technical design, procurement and installation alongside Glulam Solutions.
Sustainable, demountable, reusable
A key challenge was to maximise the ease of disassembly of the structure to allow for its future relocation.
CLT panels are typically joined together with large screws which are challenging to remove, so Xylotek developed – alongside engineers Corbett and Tasker Structural Engineering – a system that mainly uses bolted connections and makes the dismantling and reuse of CLT panels easier and keeps the carbon captured in the timber longer.
As well as being a unique music and technology attraction, the Arena is being hailed as the world’s largest demountable temporary venue. The original scheme design also had around 144 tonnes of steel plus 630 m3 of CLT but was reconfigured by Xylotek to 900 m3 of CLT – which approximately halved the embodied carbon.
As such, the ABBA Arena is a perfect example of a new approach to timber design – building in deconstruction right from the start and demonstrating a sustainable, circular mindset with a view to both the building’s future reuse and carbon capture.