IAKS Outdoor Sports Facilities Seminar attended by over 100 participants

Innovations from the synthetic surface and artificial turf sector were on the agenda of the 4th Outdoor Sports Facilities Seminar that took place at the initiative of Rolf Haas (IAKS Germany) and Prof. Dr Robin Kähler, Head of IAKS Germany’s Outdoor Work Group, in Lenzkirch from 20 to 21 October 2016. It brought together over 100 architects, designers, employees of local government and sports clubs, scientists and company representatives for an exchange of information.

The talks are exclusively available to participants and IAKS members. You can find further impressions in the image gallery at flickr.

Kicking off, Rolf Haas, member of the DIN standardisation committee on synthetic and artificial turf surfaces, reported on the current state of the standardisation of artificial turf from the national and European points of view. In accordance with DIN EN 15330-1:2013-12, artificial turf has to undergo multiple testing. This includes materials testing, e.g. for tensile strength and seam strength, and other tests, e.g. for ball rolling behaviour, force absorption and rotational resistance, both in the laboratory and on artificial turf in its installed state.

Now that cork, thanks to its properties, has been adopted in many technologies – as insulation in aerospace, for instance – cork granulates are now also being used in sports ground construction. But is cork a sensible alternative as a granulate filling? After three years of practical experience, Oliver Schneider and his colleagues from the Lehmacher & Schneider test laboratory have confirmed that cork represents an functional alternative to rubber granulates in sports surfaces. It is nevertheless essential to pay attention to the quality of the cork.

Jürgen Morton-Finger, expert in extrusion technology, reported on fibres and various filling materials of an artificial turf pitch and presented the next generation of bicomponent fibres consisting of a polymer (ST) as the inner layer and an outer layer of polyethylene. They display outstanding resilience, very favourable skin friction and low flexural rigidity.

Dr Harald Nonn presented hybrid turf. He claimed it was a genuine alternative to waterbound mineral surfaces and artificial turf. It consists of a strengthened turf base layer in which fibres are mixed into a turf layer, and a reinforced turf sward in which fibres on the support mat are worked into and over the turf layer. The goals are higher resistance to mechanical stressing and a longer service life.

The subject of artificial surfaces for outdoor sports facilities and playgrounds was illuminated in detail by David Weller. In his talk, the specialist in sports and fall protection surfaces in outdoor facilities presented the various types of surface and fields of application. He recommended joint-free fall protection specifically in the construction of playgrounds.

DIN SPEC 91335 lists the requirements and recommendations for the various layers under the artificial turf surface, with the use of factory-made elastic layers on unbound base layers. Kai Wasmund reported in particular on the innovation of horizontal drainage. This is far less expensive than conventional vertical drainage and efficiently drains the entire surface, he claimed.

In his talk rounding off the first day, Prof. Dr Robin Kähler spoke out in favour of the multifunctionalism of sports facilities from the sporting, social and environmental points of view. In the years to come, the interconnection of parks and gardens and exercise spaces and the integration of “green and grey” in which traffic routes are used as exercise spaces will grow in importance.

The Friday morning got underway with the inspection of the artificial turf pitch of sports club SV Saig e.V. in the immediate proximity of the seminar venue. First of all, Ferdinand Beck, architect of the football pitch, explained the design and construction of the sports ground to those attending. And then Rainer Buhl, expert in sports ground construction, reported on the necessary maintenance. A practical demonstration of maintenance equipment was given by the companies SMG and Weidenmann. Furthermore, Dr Jens Bussmann and his colleague Oliver Schneider from the Lehmacher & Schneider test laboratory presented selected control tests conforming to DIN EN 15330-1:2013-12.

Back indoors, Philipp Raff, who specialises in the removal, disposal and transportation of sports surfaces, provided interesting insights into the recycling of artificial turf. Under Germany’s Circular Economy Act (KrWG), clients are obligated to correctly dispose of and recycle artificial turf. The disposal options are incineration to generate energy and material recovery. Just how important the stability of floodlight pylons in sports grounds is was demonstrated by Thomas Schielke with an interesting talk accompanied by impressive photographs. According to DIN 4131, all components and joints of importance for the stability of the support structure have to be inspected closely every six years.

Light-emitting diodes are not only the rage in German households, but are also enjoying growing popularity in the sports sector as well and are being increasingly used at sports grounds. In his talk “LEDs – the innovative solution for sports grounds and outdoor facilities?” lighting expert Torsten Onasch not only explained how LEDs differ from classical lighting but also presented various factors affecting the efficiency of LED lamps with reference to sample amortisation calculations. In doing so he stressed that each project requires its own cost calculation that has to be performed in relation to the anticipated period of use. A global statement on the cost of changeover to LED lamps makes little sense.

The conference was rounded off by a panel discussion. Prof. Dr Robin Kähler and Rolf Haas (both IAKS Germany), Rainer Weller (municipality of Leonberg) and Clemens Appel (Executive Board of bdla [Federation of Landscape Architects] in Baden-Württemberg) discussed new social tasks in sport.

Companies in this sector presented their latest products in an exhibition.