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Merko completes complicated Tondiraba Ice Arena in 14 months

The three-storey multifunctional Tondiraba Ice Arena opened on 1 August consists of a main arena with 5,840 seats, two practice rinks and a curling rink. The main arena can be used for practice and competition in figure skating, hockey, volleyball, handball, gymnastics and other sports. The other two practice rinks can be used for figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey. As the name indicates, the curling rink is for practice and competition in the sport of curling.

“The ice arena building – aesthetically pleasing, with complicated engineering under the hood and multifunctional uses – was built on schedule in 14 months thanks to very smooth, constructive cooperation between customer, supervision, architect, engineers, subcontractors and our employees,” said AS Merko Infra project manager Ahto Aruväli. “It’s also a complicated structure, full of special solutions, from the 4,500 reinforced concrete elements, 2,000 square metre seamless concrete floor to the imposing 62-metre span wooden girders.”

Noteworthy in the case of the arenas is that the 2,000-square-metre concrete surface under the ice was poured with no joints and yet no cracks have developed there. The floor surface is about 4 metres underground, on the -1 level. Painted white and masterfully covered with concrete, the ice hall’s concrete encases cold pipes 8 cm apart where water-glycol solution is used as the heat transfer fluid. But for the practice rinks, an ammonia solution will be used – it’s less viscous and will save pumping energy. The concrete is insulated and was poured on to a sand substrate, which in turn is surrounded by heating pipes to prevent it from freezing. Residual heat drawn from heat exchangers in the ventilation system is used to keep the temperature high enough so permafrost does not form. A total of 8 kilometres of floor heating pipes and 8.7 kilometres of cooling pipes for ice making were installed.

The refrigeration plant on the building’s roof has an ice hopper rated at 1200 kW, which produces cold air for the rinks as well as for the dehumidification equipment. The ice rink has one rotor dehumidifier for each rink for a total of four. These are necessary to keep the 6 °C air blown above the ice low enough in moisture and prevent excess mist and condensation from forming on the ice. The construction of the main arena’s utilities and suspended ceiling was a challenge as the work took place at 21 metres between wood girders. The situation was made more difficult by the tight deadline and the fact that Estonia had only one lift that could reach the work zone. In addition, the work on the hangers, acoustic panels and technical utility systems had to be performed in a very precise sequence.

In total, close to 9400 m³ of concrete, 1400 m³ of laminated wood and tens of kilometres of pipe and cable were used, and the peak period saw up to 10 cranes on the site, representing a total of 1,000 tons of lift power. The building is made even more unique by the maximum 62 metre span wooden girders in the main arena, which were delivered in three instalments and installed on the spot to a millimetre’s accuracy. The installation of the girders started from the curling rink; then the work moved on to the practice rinks and finally, the main arena. The girders were made by OÜ Peetri Puit. The 4,500 wall elements were made at E-Betoonelement and were installed in four months using four cranes in everyday cooperation with AS Merko Ehitus Eesti’s concrete work department.

The Ice Arena
Area under construction 40,556 m2 / usable area 20,578 m2
Prominence of building above ground 15.7 m
Procurement and construction contracts used during the construction period – 115
5,000 seats in main arena
550 outdoor parking spaces
Seven general ventilation devices + 4 DST Seibu Giken rotor dehumidifiers will be installed, in addition to smoke exhaust system equipment
The cooling capacity of the ice making operations is 300 kW, and the residual heat recovered using heat pump for ice making operations is 600 kW.
The ventilation system has a cooling capacity of 700 kW, and the capacity of the heating system to be established is 2,237 kW.
Total length of the floor heating pipes installed – 8000 m; cooling pipes for ice making operations in rinks – 8700 m