The central sports ground of the city of Tampere is located in a central position on the Ratina promontory. The Ratina field was vacated by the Finnish defence forces immediately after the Second World War in the spring of 1945 when a sports ground was built to replace the former gravel pit. Yrjö Lindegren drew up a design for a stadium and sports building for Tampere with an eye on the Helsinki Olympic Games of 1952. The functionalist design, however, remained unbuilt, and the sports ground and grandstand underwent a modest renovation. The stadium was not finally built until the 1960s, to a design by Timo Penttilä. In keeping with the original practice, Penttilä sited the side grandstands on the natural slopes of the gravel pit. Because of the contours of the site, entry to these grandstands was from the top. The main grandstand building is located by the water. The entrance level is on the roof of practice and office rooms that open on to the shore, via a ramp leading from the parking area. The load-bearing structures and façades of the stadium are of unfinished reinforced concrete, cast on site.
Most of the inner surfaces are painted. On the entrance side, the building, tightly articulated by its supporting structures, reaches above the vigorously rising grandstand. The slender lighting towers standing at the edges of the field create a dramatic contrast with the compact concrete structure. The sports-related sculpture by Pentti Papinaho reflects the dynamic nature of the scheme as a whole. Penttilä’s Ratina stadium is, indeed, one of the most daring exploitations of the structural possibilities of concrete in a sports building in Finland.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA