Sport and leisure centres fulfil vital social and wellbeing functions in the heart of our local communities. Our buildings reflect the changing needs of society and how we spend our leisure time.
We are at the forefront of their development, continually challenging and evolving the mix of facilities, and often setting the social agenda. Through detailed discussions with stakeholders, clients, managers and operators, we create designs which are flexible, accessible and inclusive.
We believe it is essential to understand the diverse needs of a community to be able to create a design which meets them. An important aspect we consider is the sports development continuum. This model describes the different stages of sporting involvement from ‘Foundation’ - generally young children or beginners - through to ‘Excellence’ - elite level athletes. A flexible design approach caters for people at each of these stages, regardless of age or background.
Our instinct to question accepted norms has placed us at the forefront of innovation in facilities for ice skating, cycling, swimming and snow sports. We have the understanding to combine traditional leisure activities with spaces to learn, shop and meet. This creates centres with appeal, interest and architectural quality.
Sportcampus Zuiderpark in the Netherlands for example, is a facility which emphasises the importance of activity and exercise through education and engagement, using sport as the inspiration to deliver a healthier society. The campus creates an environment for community users, students and elite athletes to improve and develop together in one accessible location.
Whilst we understand the vital role of facilities as a catalyst for social change, we also recognise the need to balance this with commercial considerations. We work closely with managers and operators to design inherently flexible buildings and programmes of use, to ensure long-term economic sustainability.
This principle can manifest in many ways. By lifting the cycling track at Derby Arena to first floor level, the central infield area became an optimised space for a variety of sport and leisure activities, with improved access and visibility. This innovation has created an inspiring multi-purpose facility with outstanding long term prospects.
We passionately believe in the delight people gain from our architecture. This extends as much to the buildings context as it does the activities within. Careful consideration of local culture is reflected in our approach to detailing and materiality to ensure that each building makes a positive contribution to its surroundings.
Hebburn Central is an excellent example of this. The facility draws upon the region’s strong civic identity to repair a town centre which has suffered dramatically from a decline in local industry. Taking inspiration from the community’s ship building and metalworking heritage, the building acts a symbol of regeneration and a social heart for a community determined to prosper.
We highly value the feedback from our completed buildings, sharing the joy with our clients and using feedback to continually drive and deliver improvements in design standards. Our next generation of community leisure facilities will continue to push the typology to meet the needs of our evolving towns and cities.