The Novo mesto Olympic Centre is a complete sports and recreation facility that enables the residents of Novo mesto and the surrounding area to spend their free time actively, and at the same time acts as an Olympic Centre for training, competitions, education and organization of events.
It was created in a degraded military area in Češča vas, where an open velodrome was built in 1996 for the needs of the Junior World Cycling Championship. In 2018, the Novo mesto Municipality renovated it into an indoor multi-purpose facility for cycling and athletics, and in 2023, the centre was completed with swimming facilities including a 25-metre indoor pool.
The center is characterized by extensive green areas, which include an equestrian centre and a recreation park with a jogging trail, a park for motor skills activities for children, a sensory learning forest trail for the blind and partially sighted, and a picnic area. Professional sports facilities are thus complemented by space for recreational and leisure activities that are closer to nature and suitable for children, youth, the elderly, people with special needs, occasional visitors and hikers. There are also plans to set up a camping site in the Olympic Center.
The construction of the Olympic Centre was financially supported by the VARCITIES European Project, which aims to promote physical activity, a healthier lifestyle and a better quality of life for all citizens.
The velodrome is covered by an inflatable membrane with air chambers
The velodrome or the open-type cycling track, the grandstand and the multi-purpose asphalt platform were built in 1996 for the organization of the Youth World Cycling Championship (authors Marjan Zupanc, Špela Kuhar, Aleš Bizjak). The purpose of the new construction intervention, designed in 2018 by Marjan Zupanc from the Air Arhitekti, was to cover the existing sports facility with an inflatable membrane, which provides protection against adverse weather conditions and enables longer use of sports surfaces. The upgrade involved adding new programs to the cycling facility. The backbone of the design is the existing 250-meter cycle track, which is compatible with the circular 200-meter athletic track. In terms of construction and architecture, the intervention is divided into a reinforced concrete base, which contains the entrances to the building, and a prefabricated inflatable membrane, which is anchored to it. The double-layer insulating membrane that covers the surface of the velodrome is articulated with radial air chambers from segments that articulate the large roof area.
Innovative architecture of the swimming facilities
The swimming pool facility, designed by architects Dean Lah and Milan Tomac with colleagues from the Enota doo project office, represents one of the more daring architectural solutions, as it successfully combines the needs of top-class sports with the recreation possibilities offered by the surroundings: nearby horse riding, the tourist offer of the region, the proximity the Krka and Temenica rivers, sensibly introduced cycling tracks. The purpose of the Novo mesto swimming pool is to make it accessible and useful to all citizens in terms of recreation.
In its report, the evaluation committee from the Chamber of Architecture and Spatial Planning of Slovenia explained their unanimous decision on the best architectural solution for the Novo mesto Swimming facilities as follows: “The solution is exclusive and stands out mainly due to its unique location and relationship to the surroundings. The committee was mainly impressed with a comprehensive answer to the problem of the surrounding, to which the facility establishes a clearly expressed attitude in the conceptual, urban and architectural sense.”
The swimming pool, with its functionality and advancedness, has raised the content and general impression of not only local, but also regional importance. The architectural solution is simple, honest, narrative, includes the typology of Dolenjska, and the motif of the open roof, which gives the feeling of floating above the terrain, enables the contact with the surroundings. The swimming pool is extremely innovative and takes into account its usability, which follows the development of sports culture and brings together sportsmen.
The building has a rectangular floor plan and measures 58.8 metres in length, 58.15 metres in width and 8.75 metres in height. It includes two indoor swimming pools, with a central 25-metre swimming pool and a smaller heated pool, a sauna and an accompanying area (fitness areas for exercising, changing areas, and sanitary facilities, a reception with a small restaurant with a terrace, technical areas and office areas for the administration). The facility can accommodate a maximum of 370 visitors, and 250 wardrobes are available. An access road, a parking lot and a multi-purpose area for outdoor sports and recreation are planned for the outdoor areas. The second phase allows for expansion with the construction of an outdoor 50-metre Olympic-size swimming pool.
The Olympic Centre is located in Češa vas, in the western part of Novo mesto, between the valley of the Temenica River and the urban area of the city. It is located right next to Zaloška cesta, the street which is one of the entrances to Novo mesto. In the immediate vicinity are the Novo mesto Development Centre and the Technological park, as well as the Podbreznik residential neighbourhood. The Olympic Centre is well connected to the existing transport infrastructure and can be reached from the Novo mesto Zahod motorway exit in less than 10 minutes, while new paths, tracks and bridges encourage citizens to reach the Olympic Centre on foot or by bicycle.