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OYM competence centre for elite sport and research in Cham

On your marks

published in sb 6 2020

In the heart of Switzerland, a new facility, unrivalled at home and abroad for its combination of an ice rink, athletics hall and sprint track, opened in May 2020. This is where top athletes are coached and research is carried out at the highest level. The building designed by axess Architekten and Lüscher Architekten also houses a college for the training of talented athletes and an auditorium that can be hired for events by private individuals and companies.

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photo: Regine Giesecke

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photo: Regine Giesecke

The name On Your Marks has been chosen with good reason. The competence centre wants nothing less than to make talented sportspersons the best in the world in the long term. At OYM, sports visionary Hans-Peter Strebel collaborating with muscle physiologist Marco Toigo has created a location where athletes can individually and comprehensively maximise their full potential on the basis of the latest scientific findings. His vision is to combine athletic training, health management, nutrition and research.

Good to know

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photo: Regine Giesecke

Cham, Switzerland




Ice rink equipment
Engo GmbH
IT – 39040 Vahrn (BZ)

Esther Lötscher, Calydo AG

Regine Giesecke

Official opening
May 2020

Construction costs
CHF 100 million
(EUR 92.5 million)

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Layering of the room programme

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photo: Regine Giesecke

The dimensions of the building (100 × 50 × 40 m) made it necessary to place the ice hockey, sports and athletics halls one on top of the other. Like with Rubik’s Cube, the designers have optimised the layering of the room programme until the perfect solution was found. The load-bearing structure is a frame system of steel girders spanned by precast concrete slabs in a composite arrangement. Stabilisation is contributed by the building carcase and staircases as concrete cores.

The levels in OYM are linked by several staircases, with the impressive main staircase contributing discontinuity and structure while at the same time affording views of the halls and other rooms.

Balance of harmony and tension

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photo: Regine Giesecke

In its external and internal appearance, OYM is limited to a few selected materials. The envelope of galvanised sheet steel makes a somewhat rough and unpolished impression, but it will acquire patina with age and become more expressive.

In the interior, the intention was to give the numerous differently used rooms architectural coherence by deliberately limiting the variety of materials and colours. All of the permanently installed parts of the building have therefore been consistently designed on this principle. 

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photo: Regine Giesecke

A beige rubber floorcovering extends throughout the building. Natural and smoked oak, glass, chromium steel and fair-faced concrete are other materials used throughout the building, as is the colour anthracite.

Other elements, such as the luminaires for basic lighting, can also be found in the entire building. While a harmonious, uniform look was aspired to for the circulation zones, the distinctive appearance of the various OYM areas creates tension and gives the rooms with their own character a special aura.

Technology in the service of talent development

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photo: engo

Even in the ice rink it is evident that 31,400 m² of ­effective space has been consistently organised to promote ­athletes at the cutting edge of research and technology. The ­dasher board manufacturer engo developed a world-first specifically for OYM: an ice rink whose dimensions can be adapted from the European to North American specifications within about three hours. Engo developed and patented the new QuickAdapt system to the specifications of engineers Frey & Partner GmbH.

There is no uniform, correct size specification for an ice hockey rink. It depends on where it is located. In Europe, the ice pad measures 60 x 30 metres; in North America, the National Hockey League (NHL) rinks are 4 metres narrower. In addition, most ice stadiums host not only ice hockey, but also ice sports such as speed skating or figure skating, which in turn require the 60 x 30 m ice surface.

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photo: Regine Giesecke

The QuickAdapt system makes it possible for athletes to train on ice rinks of different sizes. The size of the ice rink is changed by automatically moving the ­dasher boards with the aid of 16 hydraulic cylinders. The entire process takes about three hours and requires only five people.

Because of the high injury risk in ice hockey, the OYM opted for engo’s flexible FlexBoard PPS (Player Protection System) dasher board. The board absorbs some of the player’s momentum on impact and thus helps to reduce the risk of injury. Engo is the only manufacturer to date to supply a dasher board whose flexibility has been tested and confirmed in a pendulum impact test with both fully tempered safety glass and acrylic glass.

Optimal training conditions

In the “skill zone”, players have a surface of synthetic ice at their disposal.

There are eight shooting ranges for ice hockey shooting training. Additionally installed in one of them is a skatemill, a treadmill for ice hockey players. The skatemill enables players to optimise their coordination and shooting technique. There is also a small area with real ice devoted to goalkeeper training. In the sports hall, too, the client rejected conventional fixtures and fittings – thanks to a glass floor with LED markings, the sport applicable to matches or training can be selectively displayed at any time.

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photo: Regine Giesecke

Each training session is assessed

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photo: Regine Giesecke

OYM’s centrepiece is the athletics hall and sprint track crowning the other two halls. They provide top athletes with versatile infrastructure: some 300 items of ­training equipment and free weights, a sprint and stair ramp, a sprint track with four 80-metre-lanes and a “turf” area permit the targeted design of training sessions in the ­various dimensions of the determinant performance parameters.

Here the athletes are coached and supervised not only physically, but also scientifically and therapeutically. Each training session is recorded and evaluated. To ensure performance comparability, room temperature and humidity in the athletics area are 20° Celsius and 50 % respectively throughout the year – with a maxi­mum variation of plus/minus one degree or five percentage points. An artificially created cooling lake up to a height of 2.5 m makes it possible to comply with these strict targets.

The combination of four core competences makes OYM unique

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photo: Regine Giesecke

At OYM, athletes can train at the highest level with the best possible support. But the uniqueness of the centre lies in the data-supported combination of the four core competences of athletic training, athlete health management, nutrition and research & development. For athlete health management there are several treatment zones and rooms as well as hydrotherapy, while the scientists have access to various dry and wet laboratories with measuring and analysis technologies. The nutrition is also based on the latest findings and is adapted to the personal needs as well as to the athletes’ training and competition performance. In addition to the kitchen, the catering facilities include a restaurant, the SMS (Sport Meets Sport) bar and the sports lounge. OYM also has recreational facilities comprising special relaxation boxes for a short power nap as well as 25 guest rooms and a foyer for athletes training at OYM for longer periods.

A college for talent development

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photo: Regine Giesecke

Since OYM is committed to the holistic development of its athletes, it is not surprising that it also takes care of their education. It therefore has its own college providing a variety of training courses and is consistently focused on the needs of individuals with talents in sport and other fields. Rooms with state-of-the-art equipment and zones for concentrated learning, group work and frontal instruction support the innovative teaching approach.

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photo: Regine Giesecke

A room for the public

Last but not least, the client has integrated into the new building a beautiful auditorium that meets the highest architectural, acoustic and technological standards and includes not only a large stage but also interpreter booths. Suitable for lectures and conferences as well as concerts and other events, it can also be hired by private individuals and companies.