National BMX Centre, Manchester by Ellis Williams Architects
Ellis Williams Architects has used concrete to create two very different effects at the UK’s first indoor BMX arena in Manchester
The National Indoor BMX Centre in Manchesteris the second-largest purpose-built BMX stadium in the world, boasting a 2,000-seat capacity clear-span arena. The £24m project, which was designed by Ellis Williams Architects and completed last autumn, provides the only permanent indoor facility in the UK, and the track itself is a replica of the one that has been built for the 2012 Olympics in London, enabling the country’s top riders to train at the highest level in the run-up to the Games.
Two sides of concrete’s visual potential are on display at the BMX arena. Outside, the hard landscaping imitates a rough natural terrain, while inside the exposed concrete aggregate provides an elegant contrast in smooth white polish.
Meanwhile, some 3,000m3 of clay that was excavated from the site has been reused for the earth mounds of the 7,000m2 BMX track.
A 10,000m2 building links the centre to the existing Manchester Velodrome, providing common access and shared facilities, including a reception area, retail facilities, a cafe and the new headquarters for British Cycling.
The use of heavyweight concrete for the link building creates a robust backdrop to the lightweight structure of the stadium. But it is the contrast between the external and internal finishes that demonstrates how concrete can be a visual and tactile chameleon, left rough and untamed, or taking on a more refined and polished quality.
Client Manchester City Council
Architect Ellis Williams Architects
Project manager Davis Langdon
Contractor Sir Robert McAlpine
Concrete supplier Lafarge