The velodrome is one of the most iconic, engaging and complex sporting arenas of our time. The experience gained from the design and delivery of four velodromes has given us a unique understanding of the challenges posed by these remarkable buildings.
The scale and unique format of an indoor cycling track means that a large building footprint is required to accommodate a relatively small number of cyclists at any one time. As a consequence many velodromes struggle to maintain commercial viability.
In fact, around 50% of Olympic velodromes have failed to achieve a sustainable future and are no longer in operation.
To raise income and increase occupancy, the challenge is to find ways of integrating other uses within the building alongside cycling. Our analysis of existing velodrome shortfalls has allowed us to evolve the building typology to do just that.
During major events the infield space at the centre of the track is utilised as a preparation area for competing teams; however in every day usage it is a challenge to extract value from this space due to poor accessibility. Our smart approaches to infield access have created venues with diverse sport, leisure and events programmes.
At Apeldoorn velodrome, a section of track lowers hydraulically into the floor to allow direct access into the infield, greatly increasing the flexibility to host lucrative events.
At Derby Arena this is taken a stage further: the track is raised to the first floor, providing level access to the infield from ground level. The infield is formatted as a large flexible community sports hall capable of hosting a wide range of sporting activities, as well as large-scale events and performances.
Understanding this relationship between the track, the infield and the venue’s long term objectives is crucial in creating a velodrome with a sustainable future.
A well designed velodrome endears the sport of cycling to the widest possible audience, whether that is the next generation of Olympic hopefuls or simply people wanting to engage in a more active lifestyle.
Our National Cycling Centre in Manchester is often referred to as the ‘medal factory’ due to its success in turning talented young riders into Olympic medallists. However the success of our elite athletes has inspired many amateur riders to take to the same track, many for the first time.
Our design for Edmonton Community Recreation Centre flips the concept of an open and accessible velodrome on its head. The building is conceived as a community centre with an integrated cycle track, rather than a velodrome with additional sports facilities. Featuring a sports hall and indoor running track and connecting to a swimming pool, the facility is designed to serve a diverse cross section of the local population.
Building on our desire to develop cycling venues that do more than just host events, we have also developed an exciting new concept for a low volume, low cost velodrome, capable of performing as a training venue for cyclists and a flexible multi-sports hall for other users. This concept forms a part of our vision for the future of velodrome design.