Greater Sochi occupies an area close to 3,500 square kilometers, stretching from the shoreline of the Black Sea to the Caucasus mountains. The newly completed combined rail and road tunnel from Adler to the mountain resort of Alpika Service is almost 48.2km long and is essentially the main passenger artery of the 2014 Olympic Games.

The Aldler-Krasnaya Polyana road was laid out mainly on the left bank of the Mzymta river. And having taken into consideration the topography and other features of the natural landscape, its designers positioned the railway parallel to the highway. Consequently, 46 bridges and 12 tunnels, the latter adding up to a total length of 30km, have been constructed along this combined transport corridor.

A white filigree metal canopy at the Sochi tunnel portal provides a permanent reminder that the nearby mountains maintain their snowy peaks all year round.

It was designed by Karen Saprichian, professor of International Academy of Architecture and director of project and GrandProektSity LLC Russia, the architect and manager of the entire project. Made from Novelis pre-painted aluminium ff2® looks this impressive ornamental feature sits delicately, as if floating, above the more sold, grey portal building beneath, providing a stark visual contrast between it and the green of the background trees.

Owing to its high strength and durable PVdF coating, says Novelis, its ff2® pre-painted aluminium was the ideal material for the tunnel cladding. “Excellent workability and durability, as well as a corrosion- and chalk-resistant surface were essential for this sophisticated project,” a spokesman adds.

Novelis pre-painted aluminium is characterised by its excellent weather resistance, and high loadability. It is also 100% recyclable and non-flammable (classified A1 to DIN EN 13501). SMK LLC, Novelis’s partner in Russia, manufactured 2mm-thick aluminium panels for the tunnel cladding.

Russian company Metal Fasad LLC installed 1,500 m² of pre-painted aluminium cladding in metallic granite grey for the portal building, and some 620 m² of decorative cladding in the colour Sealandwhite for the overlying canopy.

The individual elements of this canopy are arranged in an irregular pattern, joining at different heights within a complex structure of cutaway panels. In addition to the striking assembly of the single elements, says Novelis, “a multifarious interplay of light and shadow evokes the feeling of adventure”. The ornamentation, it adds, is intended to create “the illusion of hoarfrost”. 

At night, LED projectors generate a spectacular dynamic light show of the delicate yet tough structure “in all colour variants”. Accordingly, the tunnel portals are equally impressive, at any time of day or night, apt given that the goal of the project was to provide an unforgettable experience to residents of and visitors to Sochi.

Work started on the project in November 2011 and was completed in September 2012, in good time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. It was nominated as one of the six best Russian construction projects in 2012 and won a silver medal at the Zodchestvo-2012 architectural exhibition awards.

Cladding material: Novelis ff2® pre-painted aluminium 2 mm gauge

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