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Designs of the Decade: Iconic Sports Facilities From 2013 To Now

Celebrate a decade of inspirational design with us! The 10th Annual A+Awards is officially underway, and the Main Entry Deadline is December 17, 2021Click here to start your entry today.

Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in structures that can accommodate a variety of sports or sport-related functions within the same space. This approach allows users to indulge in a variety of activities in one destination, increasing regular engagement. Designers are also experimenting with contemporary forms and advanced engineering to propose projects one has never seen before. From a programmatic perspective, recreational centers that support adventure sports in remote locations are also trending. Finally, when it comes to accommodating spectators, more and more architects are exercising creativity and finding ways to make sports more accessible and enjoyable for both athletes and viewers.

Architizer’s iconic A+Awards program has registered the progression of these innovations over the past ten years, rewarding architects for creating remarkable structures that are not only indicators of good design, but also indexes cultural changes around the world. As you prepare your submission for the 10th Annual A+Awards, be inspired by the Sport and Recreation projects that have left us spellbound over the past decade.


2013: New Holmenkollen Ski Jump

JDS ARCHITECTS | Oslo, Norway
Jury Winner, 2013 A+Awards, Sports & Recreation Centers

This skiing slope gives the illusion of reaching for the sky — perhaps a metaphor for this ambitious, forward-looking feat of engineering — while maintaining links to the traditions of Holmenkollen hill in Oslo. The impactful structure is very minimal in its form, combining judging booths, commentator spots, training areas, seating, a shop and a lounge all in one construction.

Viewers can gather at the base to watch skiers glide along its surface. Meanwhile, the horizontal plane on the top houses a viewing platform that provides a view of the fjords beyond. Below, the Knoll building contains all the amenities and also acts as the support for the long cantilever.


2014: Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium Multi-Purpose Hall

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group | Hellerup, Denmark
Jury Winner, 2014 A+Awards, Sports & Recreation

Images by Jens Lindhe

This two-fold design serves as a multi-purpose sports hall and a lounging mound. The sports hall is located right below the main courtyard, 16 feet under the ground; it also happens to be the site of Bjarke Ingels’ old school. A ballistic arch, an ode to the architect’s former math teacher and now the school’s principal, forms the curved roof of the structure. This roof not only increases the floor height in the hall but also acts as a social bench where kids can lounge and play. Additionally, light filters in the hall through the multiple perforations in the roof.

Serving the student’s athletic needs without compromising the courtyard area, the design offers an ingenious solution for adapting existing structures to meet changing needs of users. The project also draws from the architect’s personal memories and shares that experience with the future generation of students.


2015: Ski Jumps Planica

abiro | Rateče, Slovenia
Popular Choice, 2015 A+Awards, Recreation Centers

Images by Miran Kambič

Another amazing spectacle of a constructed ski slope, this project curves along the natural contours of the mountain. It features a green surface and wooden details that come to light during the summer months (when the ramps are not covered in gleaming snow). The design comprises of six different slopes, which can accommodate large competitions when needed on top of serving recreational ski jumpers.

The growing number of winter sports facilities is an indicator that people are looking beyond traditional slopes for their recreational needs. The rise of such typologies also gives designers the freedom to diversify their portfolios and offers new challenges for working with natural topographies.


2016: Nathalie Mauclair Gymnasium

SCHEMAA | Champagné, France
Jury Winner, 2016 A+Awards, Recreation Centers

Images by David Foessel

Jean Rondeau gymnasium got a facelift with the addition of this muscular new sports hall. The extension plays with transparency to create a contrast with the existing building. Thick black bands, joined together in triangular forms, tying the lighter volume above with the heavier base. This helps the structure feel open and enclosed at the same time.

Sports halls often have geometric and spatial constraints. In such cases, playing with the façade and colors can give them a new personality. This project is a good example of how switching up the material palette and adding graphic elements can dramatically change the personality of an existing structure.


2017: Aquatic Centre “Aquamotion” Courchevel

Auer Weber | Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, France
Jury Winner, 2017 A+Awards, Recreation Centers

Images by Aldo Amoretti Photography

A muted color palette and mountainous swooping curves help camouflage this sprawling new structure in the majesty of the French Alps. These rounded roof profiles cover semi-underground spaces house a variety of functions like a swimming pool, water slide, jumping basin, Turkish baths, a lagoon and an exterior pool. Meanwhile, the amusement and relaxation functions are split into two different levels. Large glazed panels in the structure overground allow ample light to enter the structure. By reinforcing transparency and fluidity, the architects preserve connectivity.

As seen in other building typologies over the past decade, organic white forms are dominating the design world. And while box-like buildings are still in use, architects are adding curved surfaces to buildings to create large-scale sculptural forms inspired by surrounding mountains. This is especially evident in colder regions where ice-capped mountains offer the perfect stage for architectural feats.


2018: Bamboo Sports Hall at Panyaden International School

Chiangmai Life Architects | Chiang Mai, Thailand
Popular Choice Winner, 2018 A+Awards, Recreation Centers

Moving away from ultra-modern structures, this Thai studio employs the magic of bamboo to craft this organic dome. The use of natural materials and lotus form also falls in line with the Buddhist teachings infused in the school’s curriculum. The structure can accommodate 300 students and various activities like basketball, futsal, volleyball and badminton. It also has a moveable stage, storage room and balconies for spectators. The partially open form provides natural ventilation throughout the year. With a zero carbon footprint and naturally climate-resistant design, this structure is expected to last for 50 years.

While we are seeing an evolution in material technologies, advancement in engineering is also opening pathways for experiments with natural materials. These are a step towards more sustainable construction that can be beneficial for local and global communities, more so in the current climate crisis.


2019: Yunmen Montain all-seasons Resort

ATAH | Qingzhou, China
Popular Choice Winner, 2019 A+Awards, Recreation Centers

This is another winner that is set in picturesque wintery mountains. Instead of incorporating vernacular design and local culture like other buildings in Qingzhou, this structure focuses on becoming one with the surroundings.

The wavy piste — that is, the ski run — ends above street level to let skiers focus on just the track. Its southern end joins a large indoor space while the northern end acts as the entrance to the resort. Open terraces for visitors are placed in the middle. The addition of an indoor ski facility shelters kids from the extreme weather while they enjoy the winter activities.


2020: BIT Sports Center in Beijing

Atelier Alter Architects | Beijing, China
Popular Choice Winner, 2020 A+Awards, Gyms & Recreation Centers

Images by Weiqi Jin

Porosity, both in plan and section, play a key role in this design. The intention was to use a porous mass to encourage inter-disciplinary interaction among students. The trajectory parabola shape used in its roof is a key research area of BIT. The northern and southern campuses are connected via a promenade that is flanked by the swimming pool and the basketball court. Staggering and stacking of programs also creates permeability in the vertical plane.

By 2020, we can see how light neutral tones continue becoming increasingly prominent in the century’s architectural language, as is the focus on creating large transparent spaces defined by unconventional fenestrations that allow the penetration of light.


2021: Beloit College Powerhouse

Studio Gang | Beloit, Wisconsin
Popular Choice and Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Gyms & Recreation Centers

Images by Tom Harris

Studio Gang refurbished a coal-burning power station, constructed between 1908 and 1947, with the addition of a translucent field house to form a recreation and wellness space for the students of Beloit College. The building contains a fitness center, gym, swimming pool, indoor turf field, breakout spaces and a suspended three-lane running track. These sports facilities are supported by lounges, club rooms, a conference center and an auditorium.

While adapting old structures sounds like an intriguing prospect, this task often comes with difficult challenges, especially as we are move towards more sustainable building models. Century-old structures such as this one likely require an extensive overhaul of heat and ventilation systems. The firm achieved this here with a polycarbonate façade in the new extension for thermal insulation and a radiant panel and slab system to collect energy from the Rock River.


2022: ???

Could your project complete our decade of inspirational design? Submit it for the 10th Anniversary A+Awards for a chance to take the final place in this collection! Enter your work before December 17th, 2021 to get your firm in the running for global recognition:

Enter the 10th Annual A+Awards

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