The town of Boechout is situated in the suburban area east of Antwerp. There, bordering on a nature reserve, lays Sportspark Sneppenbos, designed by the architectural office ZJA and conveniently placed in the center of several residential areas. It is a large multifunctional facility for indoor and outdoor sports on a location next to what used to be military warehouses but is now a recycling wharf. The new building consists of two levels with the lower one housing a vast sports hall for all indoor sports, including badminton and gymnastics. All the associated toilets, dressing rooms and offices are located there as well. Next to it is a multifunctional hall that can serve as an extension of the sports hall, by removing a mobile wall. This extra hall is of great importance, not just for the sports events, but also for the social events that the clubs organize.
On the second level one finds the cafeteria and the supporter’s home of the football club. There is an external stairway to reach it, leading to a wide platform that merges into a substantial terrace overlooking the football and field hockey pitches. Furthermore, rooms for martial arts are included which benefit from daylight. Transparency is a leading theme in the design by ZJA, not just expressed by the many windows that allow a view onto the big hall and facilitate eye contact, but also outside, where the roomy and inviting platform offers a wide view over the entire park.
Wide variety of sports
Sneppenbos is a complex puzzle, considering the wide variety of sports it accommodates, including, next to all the outdoor team sports, a running track and a set of petanque pitches. Approximately 25 sporting clubs call Sneppenbos their home and it is no surprise that the café in the building is open every day till late in the evening. It proves to be a pleasant place to meet for many reasons.
The design’s emphasis on clarity and simplicity asks for attention to specific functional details. Such as the floor of the dance hall on the second floor, which is equipped with extra reinforcements, to ensure a vibration proof suspension. There are slopes along the pitches outside, covered with synthetic turf, that offer seating for spectators but are also efficient storage units for balls, nets etc. The dressing rooms on the outside of the building have both doors to the inside as to the outside to offer as much flexibility as possible during peak hours.
The paneling of the building is carried out with black thermally treated wooden strips, which ensures an extremely strong protection from mold, rot and wear. It also evokes references to rural structures like farm barns. In the interior white washed wooden panels produce a natural and light atmosphere.
A meeting place for everyone
At Sneppenbos a green entrance path divides the sports fields from the building, like a spine right along the middle. By setting foot on it one establishes eye contact with spectators lining the field, but also with players exiting the dressing rooms or people on the platform and the terrace. Despite its logistical complexity this sports building is designed for transparency, comfort and as a meeting place. It unites a large variety of sportive and social functions that are not per definition related to sports. The community of Boechout will also be able to use Sneppenbos on occasions such as the yearly carnival or mussel feasts.
Principal: Municiplaity of Boechout
Design consultant: OMGEVING
Photograph: Omgeving, Yannick Milpas