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Innovative ideas for indoor sports and leisure facilities

Conference and facility tour at Sportcampus Zuiderpark on 24 May

Sportcampus Zuiderpark  - holder of the Gold medal at the 2019 IOC IPC IAKS architecture prizes - was the perfect setting for the IAKS conference on „Innovative indoor sports and leisure facilities“. International participants from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland converged to discuss how to integrate community use into sports facilities. Programming and designing was at the core of the presentations, rounded up by talks on financing and operating.

The highlight of the day was the facility tour at the Sportcampus, an innovative collaboration of alliances between education, sport, sports science and the community, for both the municipality of The Hague and its private partners. The 34,000 m² sports campus includes a gymnastics hall, beach sports hall, spectator arena, and a multi-purpose sports hall, as well as a variety of sports science and education spaces.

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Sportcampus Zuiderpark is open to everyone, from early in the morning until late in the evening (8 am to 11 pm). The inviting gesture is already realized by transparent doors and a discrete reception desk: no need to apply, just walk in. Ilke Meertens, Program Manager Elite Sports & Events of the Council of Den Haag and former top athlete of the national Beachvolleyball team, stated that the facility is well frequented by students and clubs. Activities around the building are planned to attract more individuals to come inside. A future goal is to become the home for a first league sports team to have large events in the spectator arena on a weekly basis.

„Welcome to the SportsCube in Brugge“ was Diederik Van Briel’s message (Agentschap Sport Vlaanderen), when he presented the innovative project of „Exergaming“ in sports. The combination of physical activity / exercises and video games is a new approach to inspire people of any age to become more active and is also used for rehabilitation.

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Bernard Kössler of Hamburg Gebäudemanagement introduced new ways in financing and operating modern sports halls. In particular the „landlord-tenant model“ attracted the delegates‘ interest. The property of a sports facility goes to a limited and non profit owner company (landlord) who – unlike governmental bodies - has access to “fresh” funds for investment on the financial market. The rental serves to refinance loan fees and to finance facility and property management.

IAKS Austria President and CEO of architecture firm Raumkunst Harald Fux presented modern approaches in programming and designing indoor facilities for school sports or community use. When developing spaces for sports and leisure activities according to changes and trends in sports, the goals are conceptual flexibility and sustainable adaptability of the movement spaces including demand- and user-oriented program development. New movement spaces – under sportive, pedagogical, social, ecological and functional aspects, bring added value.

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„Create a place for activity that does not look like that“ – this is what Casper Lindemann (National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark) and Oliver Vanges (LOA fonden) requested. They reported on the project „old gymnasiums – new opportunities“. With new ways in designing the traditional gym, the project strives to have three functions in one place: a classroom for physical education, a sports club, and a local meeting place.

One of the key lessons from architecture in the Netherlands is the way of stacking facilities, said Michael Hall (Partner, FaulknerBrowns architects). A simple necessity in a land close to the sea level, the procedure of stacking can be applied to any area where space is hardly available. When programming a sports facility it is suitable to allow easy modifications of its use according to the actual demand.

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Erik Moederscheim, Founding partner at Moederscheim Moonen architects presented the Dutch way on how to activate and to inspire sports and leisure facilities. He suggested to bring unprofitable clusters together. Following up on the idea of a community centre where sports infrastructure is combined with other community functions he fostered the concept of displaying areas for movement to people who come into the building just to meet the authorities, to inspire them to get active themselves next time.

The day closed with a networking dinner where delegates discussed the learnings.