After two keynote speeches, some 100 participants seized the opportunity to discuss the current situation and future tasks of their particular sector on the morning of 28 October 2015 at the 24th IAKS Congress.
Prize-winning sports facilities from Spain, Cyprus, Brazil, Honduras, Canada and Switzerland captured the attention of expert visitors in the afternoon.
International trends with pool facilities
Under the chairmanship of Dr Klaus Batz, Managing Director of EWA, the keynote speeches of the first workshop presented two very different design and operating approaches. Paolo Emilio Cassandro, architect at Simone Micheli Architectural Hero, places emphasis on aesthetically pleasing architecture and the pool user's well-being. In Italy, bathing is often associated with a stay at the beach, so bathing in enclosed spaces has to be made particularly attractive – best of all with unique visual characteristics bearing the architect's signature.
"It doesn't matter how beautiful the building is, the operator must be in a position to work with it," said Rainer Pethran, pointing out the importance of involving the operator in the design process as early as possible. There are currently two trends: the pool user either prefers competitive and in some cases achievement-oriented swimming or he wishes to spend a kind of brief holiday at the pool. Only ten years ago, experts advised having hospitality awarded to external operators; today food & drink can be key source of earnings. The various user areas of a pool should be carefully configured so that the members of a family can spend their dwindling leisure time together. A new business area is opening up from the growing need of pool users to access the internet even at the swimming pool.
International trends with outdoor facilities
"Outdoor facilities have something to offer users all year round," says Lars Hjorth Baerentzen of the Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities. At the workshop chaired by Prof. Dr Robin Kähler, the challenges facing operators were outlined by Lars Hjorth Baerentzen and Ralf Meier, Managing Director of maier landschaftsarchitektur. Facilities open to the public are exposed to growing risks concerning liability and vandalism. For a facility to be operated successfully, operators and user groups, who often are not organised in the traditional sense, must network closely. Overall, outdoor facilities enable the operator to offer activities for a diverse range of population groups. Baerentzen urges operators to abandon excessive safety-mindedness and find joint strategies in cooperation with user groups.
International trends with indoor facilities
"With new sports hall strategies, local authorities can improve what they offer to local residents," says Mark Todd, Paralympic Games accessibility expert and chairman of the workshop. Previously largely reserved for team sports, indoor sports facilities are turning increasingly into community centres. Practical examples were supplied by Mark Hentze, partner of CEI Architecture / HDR Architecture Associates, and Harald Fux, Managing Director of RAUMKUNST ZT GmbH. Sporting, fitness and recreational activities and even art can be made available on a single site. Two-way communication between local authorities and facility users should be continuous, thus establishing identity.
Ciutadella Park Sports Centre in Barcelona (Spain)
Barcelona's densely populated old town quarter needed a sports centre of approximately 4,500 m², including an indoor basketball court of regulation size, a multipurpose outdoor court, an indoor and an open-air swimming pool, a gymnasium that can be divided into various spaces, and the corresponding changing rooms and bathrooms. Foundations from the citadel are visible at this level and the design team cleverly incorporated them into the design of the aquatic centre component. The arrangement of different sports layers on top of each other results in a very effective use of the site. The Sports Centre has an extremely simple and elegant form – a combination of glass and solid elements veiled with a skin of space that harmonises with the surrounding historic neighbourhood, provides solar screening and creates a social and architectural icon for the community.
Sports4Peace Park in Nicosia (Cyprus)
Strategically located in the current buffer zone that divides the county in a Northern and a Southern part of Cyprus, the design concept creates a multi-sports destination and encourages dynamic movement and interaction. The crossing of the site is made both over ground and on ground level. Through it one can experience the sports activities as a simple spectator or one can also engage with the athletes. The design provides several chances to spectate on both levels with the use of benches, tiers, bleachers and even places to watch an ongoing game. The paths meet from both sites on the centre of the high ground where a square has been erected with bleachers to emphasize it. Some temporary events can take place here, such as speeches, presentations or even coach and player meetings. The main buildings consist of the café, the renovated offices, a kiosk and an open gym.
Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador (Brazil)
The football stadium shows that intelligent design can always come up with new solutions enabling the operator to create additional events and sources of income. There are three main advantages to leaving the southern stand open to the lakeside. It invites stadium visitors to enjoy not only football matches but also the beautiful surroundings with the lake. It also makes the natural ventilation of the stadium interior highly efficient, and finally the plaza space offers flexibility for many different events of different sizes.
UNAH University Sports Complex in Tegucigalpa (Honduras)
The sports complex provides accessibility for spectators and also for participants to all areas of the building. In addition to elevators to all levels, a ramp system is also provided enabling easy egress at the end of competitions and also in the event of an emergency or fire. Wayfinding is excellent using colours on different levels throughout the building, so assisting visually impaired people and those with learning disabilities. For disabled spectators elevated positions are provided which constitute 15% of the venue’s capacity. At least 20% of all toilet facilities are accessible which exceeds even stringent building codes. Facilities for athletes include a large number of accessible changing rooms and showers.
Actus in Quebec City (Canada)
The design shows a community-oriented multi-sports centre amidst the urban fabric and the landscape of the harbour area of Quebec City. The atmospheric approach and the choice of wood as the material venerate sport and exercise as important social factors. Programme-wise, the project provides an abundance of social spaces accompanying the sports facilities. The pool facility is orientated to the St. Charles River. The various building components are arranged in a step-like topographic manner, unfolding towards the waterside. Consideration has been given to sustainability and ventilation as well as to universal accessibility.
Naturbad Riehen, Switzerland
The new swimming pool was built on the original site. The water of this swimming pool undergoes absolutely natural biological treatment. The natural surroundings are dominated by aquatic plants. The pool is surrounded by a timber wall. The state-of-the-art technology and a special water treatment system are of superlative quality and provide clean water. The heat recovery system meets part of the pool’s needs.