Las Arenas, Barcelona, Spain

The “Las Arenas” shopping and entertainment mall is a distinctive building, the fruit of innovative and avant-garde architecture in which achievement of the established objectives depended heavily on the structural engineering effort deployed during design and construction. Its construction involved complex architecture and engineering as well as a wide variety of building materials, elements and processes (diaphragm walls, pile-columns, micro piles, anchorages, reinforced and prestressed concrete, steel and composite structures, laminated wood). Furthermore, it was subject to strict compliance with requisites imposed by the need to conserve, restore and integrate the former brick masonry façade on the existing “Las Arenas” bullring.

One of the most prominent features of the new mall is the dish that roofs the building constructed inside the historic façade. Its structure, a series of radial and circumferential steel beams, rests on four distinctive stand-alone “tree-like” columns that rise from the ground storey. The vibratory behaviour induced by the enormous flexibility both of these columns and the dish structure required an in-depth analysis of dynamic actions.

The dish itself is partially roofed by a sizeable laminated wood dome that stands at its centre. The participants in the project naturally assumed the architectural and structural challenges posed and successfully surmounted the obstacles characteristically encountered in such a distinctive endeavour.