RSI Places Baku Shooting Center In The Picture
Regardless of the growth that the artificial turf industry has witnessed in the past few years, the installation that RSI completed at the Baku Shooting Center remains the single largest installation in Europe; 136.000 sqm on one location. Built for the 2015 European Games, the venue is still in use and the artificial turf surface that RSI developed and installed remains highly appreciated.
Being the host for the inaugural European Games, organizers of Baku 2015 were adamant about delivering an event that would surpass even the highest European standards. Situated on the banks of the Caspian Sea the capital of Azerbaijan had high ambitions to definitely shake off the blanket of being another former, but traditional, Soviet Union city. The European Games were to provide the perfect platform to showcase its city.
The Baku Shooting Center was purposely built for hosting all shooting events for the Games and to leave a legacy for the international shooting fraternity. The 123,000 square-meter building includes various functional areas, a café, a VIP waiting and recreation area, management spaces, training hall, doping control, weapons storage, 55-seat 2 conference and media rooms, a medical center and a fitness hall. It complies with all regulations for those organizing shooting competitions at distances of 10, 25, 50 and 300 meters and has several firing lines that allow up 80 athletes to compete in a particular competition simultaneously.
An Almost Natural Surface
Shooting ranges have very peculiar requirements when it comes to the surface. The surface shouldn’t be maintenance-intensive, nor should it distract the shooters. Furthermore, surfaces for shooting ranges should be visually appealing to visitors, athletes and spectators but unattractive to wildlife. Organizers of the event invited local contractor DDLAR Group to deliver such facility.
The company prides itself by constructing complexes of Premium and De Luxe class in the best areas as well as projects that win admiration both domestically and abroad. Their designers quickly turned to RSI for assistance regarding the 123,000 meters surface as DDLAR immediately recognized the need for experienced professionals to deliver a project with an atmosphere of benevolence and devotion. A briefing and study made RSI product engineers decide to settle for a 28mm artificial turf carpet with yarn in four different colors.
The combination of lime green, olive green, dark brown and light brown would give the carpet the appearance of a natural surface yet one that doesn’t accommodate wildlife. Its short pile would also enable the quick removal of clay remnants of the clay discs used as targets in the shooting competitions. A pole weight of 1,300 grams for the carpet and 5kg sand per square meters would guarantee that the surface remains flat, stable and firmly in place.
Meticulous Planning and Installation
The installation for projects of this magnitude requires, much more than just installation experience. Apart from the 123,000 square meters of flat surface, the Baku Shooting Center also has traps, trenches, towers and several walls that had to be clad with artificial turf too. All in all, RSI installed 136,000 square meters of artificial turf, the equivalent of 17 full-size football fields. At its peak, it had 250 crew onsite to complete the installation.
The presence of the crew had to be aligned with the arrival of the turf. The RSI logistics team took three months to prepare the project. While road-, air- or sea-freight can easily reach Baku, customs, the climate and need for sufficient accommodation, transport and other necessities for the installation team, meant that every step had to carefully planned. This was necessary in order to prevent delays or unnecessary financial implications. Each roll measured four meters in width and arrived on trucks. The installation of all pieces was carefully considered to position the plastic grass blades in such a way they would not produce any glare. As Baku is a coastal city, the local climate had a major influence on the installation process. Glues and equipment used to glue the carpet pieces together had to be adequately prepared and timed correctly to achieve maximum bonding of the carpet pieces.
With many officials taking a keen interest in the project, supervising the installation also meant management and crew had to be flexible and dedicated. The installation of 136,000 square meters artificial turf is a time consuming and labor-intensive process. The over 500 drain covers that had to be cut out and glued separated meant extra time had to be spent on every square meter to ensure the carpet would fit correctly. Excited officials would press the installation team regularly to adjust their installation plan in order to impress and satisfy visiting officials and dignitaries. They considered the eight hills onsite as a perfect means to visualize the installation process and would often submit last-minute requests to adjust the installation accordingly. The experience and dedication of the RSI installation crew have saved the day on more than one occasion while working through the night to make things happen.
While the European Games left Baku in late June 2015, the Baku Shooting Center has managed to continue attracting athletes and visitors ever since. The venue is one of the few sports venues proudly advertised on various official websites from the Azerbaijan government to the Shooting Federation. It still stands proudly as a shiny reminder to the 2015 event, and remains the one that outshines any possible competitor.
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