Sports centre on a university campus

The campus of the University of Leuven is located in a woody setting and consists of buildings in a wide range of architectural styles. The commission was to add a sports centre that connected with the adjoining existing swimming pool This required quite a large volume and to blend that in with the park like surroundings architects ZJA chose perforated steel sheeting for the blind facade, with increasing finer perforations upwards. This offers climbing plants an opportunity to give the building a really green look and soften the straight contours of this long and high building.

A spacious entry

The entry hall with its wide steps is situated at the side of the building near the green space, and it is designed to be light and inviting, offering passers-by a view inside. Horizontal details and light colours make sure the building matches with the surrounding buildings. It seems obvious that the hall, the steps and adjoining space outside will turn into popular meeting places on the campus. For that reason it is crucial that they are spacious and comfortable. Broad views and transparency are both helpful in that. From the entry hall one has a beautiful view of the patio and the nearby athletics track. There is also immediate visual contact with the cafeteria and the building manager’s office. The open design accentuates the accessibility one expects of fitness rooms and the sports medical centre.

All attention to play and players

Whether used for training or competition, this building has to meet the highest international standards. Nothing may disturb the maximum attention for play and the players. For this reason ZJA chose to use natural colours in combination with a wooden floor and wooden girders in the roof. Combined with the metal acoustic ceiling, the dark sheeting on the walls shapes the setting for a true top-notch sports hall. The stands, accommodating two hundred people, is designed as a clear cut out in the wall, like a window with a white frame, giving a view on the match in the hall. Because broad girders are used here, there are no columns to obstruct the view from the stands.

Comfortable and easily adaptable

First of all a sports centre should be flexible and be able to host very different events. This sports centre is chosen as the home of the Belgian national women’s volleyball team. But there are also different student competitions. For a big match a central playing field can be arranged, surrounded by extra stands when a large crowd is attending, but mobile dividing walls can turn the same space into a tournament venue with three playing fields. The building’s lay out makes use, circulation and evacuation efficient and easy. The light construction and the supporting façade make columns in the cafeteria and other halls superfluous, giving this area a spacious and inviting character.

Client: KU Leuven
Principal: DMI Vastgoed
Tender 2014

Project: #798