How to Design Sports Arenas?
Sports arenas are relevant in society by being a stage for sports and cultural practices. They increase well-being and mental health, fight a sedentary lifestyle and promote social inclusion. The architects’ role behind these projects is to think about this space in a way to accommodate athletes and the community comfortably. In addition, the architect seeks a dialogue with the surroundings and a distinct identity.
Due to their large dimensions, planning their layout (which, in addition to the court, may include a reception program, locker rooms, and training areas) according to the flows is essential to ensure space efficiency. Comfort issues like lighting (natural and artificial), air conditioning, and acoustics are also indispensable to guarantee a space where the athlete can perform best. Together with the safety of the audience and the aesthetics, the environment will create, these factors pose a great challenge to its designers.
We present five examples that approach the program through different solutions and materials, providing a comfortable area for athletes and allowing the entire community to interact with the surroundings.
Castanheiras Arena in Santana de Parnaiba / Estúdio Trópico
“The shape has been suggested so as to optimize the natural light and ventilation; the implantation provided for the zenith openings to face South. (…) The side closings are loose, at a 2.3m distance from the floor, so as to propitiate natural ventilation and to ensure the surrounding visual permeability. Such closings are made in aluminum trapezoidal tiles which in some points are provided with a 31% perforation, therefore exposing the surrounding views; the other snatches are made of 10cm-sandwich tiles on the outside face, all perforated on the inner face and filled with Rockwool, thus providing the set with both thermal and acoustic protection. (…) The covering is made with the same tiles of the side closing, although the system is 20-centimeter wide since it is most intensely hit by the sun’s rays. The shed’s closing is made with the help of an alveolar polycarbonate panel and where the ventilation exists, with the help of polycarbonate Venetian blinds”
Waseda University Honjo Senior High School Gymnasium / Nikken Sekkei
Generally speaking, gym windows are covered with curtains when competitions are held. With this project, however, the aim was to create an arena allowing indirect natural light suitable for indoor exercises and blocking strong direct sunlight to afford a feel for the outside environment. According to the architects, “These tubes have an important role to play in the operation of the facility, as they house air conditioning, lighting, and sound equipment. Access is possible through hatches built into the walls. The outermost tube is the most spacious, and functions as a corridor, an indoor running track, and a passageway for indirect light to pass through to the arena.” In addition, small and large holes bored into the arena walls at strategic locations allow pale and dim natural daylight into its core. This obviates the need for curtains.
Bamboo Sports Hall for Panyaden International School / Chiangmai Life Construction
“On both long sides, balconies provide space for parents and other visitors to observe sporting events or shows. (…) The design and material enable a cool and pleasant climate all year round through natural ventilation and insulation. At the same time, the exposed bamboo structure is a feast to the eye and an exhibition of masterly handicrafts. (…) The innovative structural design is based on newly developed prefabricated bamboo trusses with a span of over 17 meters without steel reinforcements or connections. These trusses were prebuilt on-site and lifted into position with the help of a crane.”
São Luís Sports & Arts Gymnasium / Urdi Arquitetura
The renovation of the gymnasium increased the number of courts by inserting a grass field on the roof and creating retractable bleachers. According to the architects, “the option of retractable bleachers on one side only allows direct visual exchange with the city through the facades – specially with the huge trees that surround the corner where the new Gymnasium is built. (…) Climate control is one of the main features of the new building. The comfortable temperature and air exchange are accomplished by the design features of the facades. Strategically positioned permanent openings brings fresh air to the courts, while special glass panels control the incoming solar radiation.” In addition, the possibility of opening all the sliding doors towards the north facade of the building manage to control the intensity of the winds over the seasons. The whole building “received acoustic treatment to accommodate not only sporting events, but also institutional and cultural events regularly programmed in the school. Backed by a complete theater infrastructure, the space has its sound reverberation and acoustic insulation precisely set for any intended use; the building presents high standards of comfort and excellence, without disturbing the neighborhood.”
Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium / BIG
“The hall, formed by beveled concrete walls, is covered by a soft vaulted wooden roof formed by a series of uniquely curved glued laminated timber beams. The roof, serving two functions as an interior and exterior skin,is a welcome addition to the existing 1950s campus of yellow brick buildings. The hilly courtyard creates an informal meeting place that can host numerous activities from group work to larger gatherings.”