Baku boasts one of the few bespoke gymnastics arenas in the world thanks to the support of Azerbaijan's First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva.

Officially opened in April by President Ilham Aliyev and the First Lady, head of the Organising Committee for Baku 2015 and, coincidentally, the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, the National Gymnastics Arena will be a centrepiece venue for the European Games.

The iconic Arena will play host to all gymnastic disciplines at the Games including artistic, rhythmic, acrobatic and aerobic, with the trampoline event also set to be held here.

Located between the rail-line and main road from the airport, the Arena will be easily accessible for all athletes, spectators and media personnel.

It will sit within the Village Cluster, positioned just a mile away from both the Athletes' Village and main Olympic Stadium.

The Arena was designed by global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan, following a competition-winning design entry in 2011.

The design project included development from start to finish, encompassing architectural, interior and landscape design, as well as graphics, way-finding, signage and ticketing.

Broadway Malyan's approach was to prioritise the spectators' experience and gymnasts' needs and address the unique challenges of venue design by combining an intelligence-led design approach with a deep understanding of the intangibles, such as "atmosphere", that make venues successful.

The National Gymnastics Arena will be one of the centrepiece venues for the 2015 European Games in Baku ©Baku 2015The National Gymnastics Arena will be one of the centrepiece venues for the 2015 European Games in Baku ©Baku 2015

The resultant design symbolises Azerbaijan's strong gymnastics heritage and takes inspiration from the ribbon of the rhythmic gymnast, featuring three ribbon louvres to control daylight and solar gain and create views.

At night dynamic lighting will make the arena appear as three ribbons in Azerbaijan's national colours fluttering over a stone plinth, with the lighting scheme also enabling the projection of lighting displays and dynamic imagery.

Inside, the Arena is designed to host all gymnastics disciplines, while also having the flexibility to host other sporting and cultural events through its retractable and movable seating tiers. These tiers allow the Arena to vary its capacity from 5,000 to 9,600 seats, depending on the scale and nature of the event it is hosting.

It also features a training hall for the national Azerbaijan gymnastics team, which can be integrated into the main Arena space and includes accommodation facilities, as well as physiotherapy and medical suites.

The Arena is set within the 24,000 square metres of surrounding landscape designed to complement the building and includes an underground car park capable of parking at least 300 vehicles.

Within this area, visitors will also find a hotel as well as a press centre, first aid station, dance hall and gym, doping control rooms, offices, shops and cafes.

Costing in the region of $200 million, the Arena is one of only a handful of bespoke gymnastics venues in the world.

The National Gymnastics Arena will host all the gymnastic disciplines for the inaugural European Games ©Baku 2015The National Gymnastics Arena will host all the gymnastic disciplines for the inaugural European Games ©Baku 2015

The Arena is due to stage its first major event when it hosts the 30th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships on June 13 until 15.

More than 30 countries are expected to take part in the Championships when competitors will be housed in the new Olympic Village built for the 2015 European Games.

In 2015, it will host six events in gymnastics disciplines at once during the Games, while in 2019 the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships is also planned to be organised at the Arena.

These will not be the first major rhythmic gymnastics competitions to be held in Azerbaijan, with the country boasting a highly successful delivery portfolio, including the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup Competitions in 2003 and 2004, the World Championship in 2005 and the European Championships in 2007 and 2009.

Up-to-date gymnastics equipment is installed in the hall according to the recommendations of the European Union of Gymnastics and Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

National teams in rhythmic and men's artistic gymnastics, as well as trampoline and acrobatic gymnastics and tumbling currently train in the Arena.

Courses for coaches are also organised here by the Academy of the International Federation of Gymnastics.

For the last two months, gymnasts from Turkey, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico and Hungary have taken part in the training camp held in the hall. It is expected that athletes from Canada, the Czech Republic, Greece and Finland will join the training camp to be held in the near future.