© Scagliola Brakkee

into a variety of sizes, and accommodate various events.


The main structural have been brought together in the centre of the plan, for maximum flexibility

BELOW The courtyard at the entrance opens on to the park

Level 1 covers four key spaces – an arena, ‘dry’ sports hall, beach sports area, and a gymnastics hall. The central hall occupies the middle of the building, providing a 3,500 seat arena space. To one side is the multi-purpose sports hall, which is one of the project’s sub-dividable areas, able to transform into a number of smaller spaces using flexible walls, and large enough to hold 18 basketball courts when fully opened up. On the other side of the central arena is the beach sports area, which can be subdivided into two beach football courts or six beach volleyball courts. To the side of that is the dedicated gymnastics hall, with a variety of equipment and foam pits for practicing jumps. Extending over about 200 metres end to end, these spaces form a 50 metre wide strip that runs right the way through the building.

© Scagliola Brakkee

The architect explains that flexibility was an early key design driver: “One of the original ideas behind the scheme was to try to have flexible walls between all those spaces, so that you could actually combine them together to create a totally flexible, multifunctional space.” He adds: “At the end of the day however, as the


brief evolved it became clear that the environmental and acoustic requirements of each space would favour a greater degree of separation.”

He explains some further benefits of placing the main spaces at the centre of the building, with the smaller volumes around them: “In many ways the reason those four main spaces were brought together was to place them in the middle of the scheme, so that the corners of the rectangular boxes don’t protrude. Then, in effect, the smaller spaces were arranged around the perimeter, allowing us to wrap this conceptual ribbon around them, tying them all together.” Another reason the main arena is placed in the middle is that it has the greatest height demand. The building rises up on one side, and, says Davenport, “its highest point is dictated by the height of the tiered arena seating.”

As well as the main areas, there are a number of smaller volumes which sit alongside. These include a dojo, dance areas, and four smaller sports halls (primarily used for the school during the day and the public during the evening). A sports science laboratory is also included within the building, with monitoring equipment and observation


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