The world’s first mobile curling hall was opened in Turku


The world’s first mobile curling hall was opened in Turku

11 October 2017
Copper Hill Curling Club from Turku, Finland, won the World Curling Federation’s, WCF’s, international competition where 16 countries sought the opportunity to build the world’s first mobile curling hall. Sweco supported the club in implementing the pilot project and the structural and building engineering designs of the hall.

The new curling hall has two ice sheets with walkways, an entrance hall, locker rooms and an accessible toilet. There are also plans to build a cafe and a meeting room upstairs. The project of 0.5 million euros was implemented with a leasing contract, according to which the club only pays the operating costs of the hall during the first few years.

“The project was a jackpot for us, since many sports hall projects in Finland are on hold due to the costs,” says Mika Äikiä, chair of Copper Hill Curling Club. “Until now, we’ve been playing in ice hockey rinks that are often fully booked, and their conditions are challenging for curling, as well. Curling requires a smoother ice than sports like ice hockey or figure skating.”

The pilot project was important for curling enthusiasts in Turku, but also for people elsewhere in Finland and the world.

“It wasn’t really a regional project,” Äikiä specifies. “Curling is gaining more popularity in the United States and Asia, for example, and new halls with reasonable costs are needed. The hall concept can also be applied to other sports where associations or clubs are concerned about the high initial capital required for the hall projects.”

Impartial support for the project management

The club started the project with a communal spirit. The hall was designed in Sweden, but volunteers built the social facilities of the hall, among other aspects. Henri Tanila, the club’s board member, was responsible for the groundwork.

“Designing and building this completely unique hall took over two years, and our role was to steer the project forward in a controlled manner and in co-operation with all parties. In addition, we participated in the structural and building services engineering of the hall,” says Antti Heikkilä, the regional manager of Sweco’s Turku office.

“We faced many challenges in the project, at first, and that’s why we’re happy that Sweco, and project engineer Samuli Virtala, in particular, helped us with the project,” Äikiä adds. “It benefited all parties that an impartial actor unified the views of the club and the international federation, since there were many differences related to legislation alone. If the design experience we’ve gathered now is used in a future hall project, the hall will be built faster than in the pilot, in just three months.”

Curling requires stable indoor conditions

The groundwork and isolations of the hall were built above ground so that the hall could be transported easily. However, the technology needed to be as reliable as in other curling halls.

“We use automation to ensure that the air conditioning and dryers keep the hall’s inner temperature and humidity stable,” Äikiä says. “The temperature of the ice is also monitored and adjusted according to the hall’s conditions. Things such as the number of watchers and players affect the indoor conditions.”

“As this is a completely new type of a hall, the technology involves many special characteristics,” Heikkilä specifies. “The greatest challenge was ensuring high-quality indoor conditions regardless of the hall’s exceptionally light structure. Judging from the feedback we have received, the conditions of the hall are already top-quality in this phase of the adoption.”

The social, skill-based sport is for all ages and sizes

The goal of Copper Hill Curling Club is to introduce their sport to a few hundred new members.

“The athletes from Helsinki who are getting ready for the Olympics have shown interest in our hall, and people competing at the national level or just for leisure are also training at our facilities,” Äikiä says. “Curling is also optimal for co-worker teams, for example, as men and women can play it equally.”

Curling suits everyone, regardless of age or size.

“In Canada, there are tournaments for over 80-year-olds, and in Finland there are several 50-year-olds aiming for the Olympics. Curling is also a good choice for special needs groups, and even a 9-year-old can play with the normal stones. We also plan to order smaller stones for younger children in the hall.”

Starter and introductory courses are a good introduction to curling.

“You can take a course with your friends or co-workers, and after that you can participate in the free sessions at the hall. There are also leagues and tournaments from leisure groups to the Western Finland League and divisions. You can make it to the top quickly if you want to! Curling is a lot like bowling, since you can either play seriously or take it easy and enjoy the social aspect.”