The traditional sports facility is modeled after the dimensions of the competition pitch. Whether it is handball or badminton, the design phase is limited to drawing up the lines for the senior pitch, placing a few of them alongside each other if there is room for it and then filling it with everyone from the youngest to the oldest. Gymnastics is not much better. In the last decade, we have seen a number of specialized facilities gotten build all around Scandinavia, and close to every single time, they seem to have been built from the same template: Build landing areas with full run-up for the elite athletes, put a big trampoline behind it and let’s see how many similar setups we can copy in array before we run out of place.
They are designed to the specifications of seniors and elite with little regard to the most important time in any athlete’s career, mainly the playful and exploratory time from the first practice and until specialization, commonly recommended to be just before they turn teenagers. We call this period the recreational or foundational training period and here, we should not care about competition results and strict regulations. We should care about giving our youngest as many good experiences with movement as possible and about building the best possible motor skills, for use in specialized sports later on.
This is exactly the goal, we have set for our architectural concept about “Gymnastics For All”. To build a multifunctional facility where everyone, no matter age, and skill level, can feel safe, play around with fun movements and get challenges at their level. The concept can be transferred to all kinds of sports, but the combination with gymnastics makes excellent sense, because of the big variety of movement types, motor skills, and technical and diverse drills they introduce kids to in gymnastics. It is hard to find a better and more diverse motor skill education than gymnastics, not to mention the immense amount of positive transfer it has to other sports.
In designing this kind of facility, we start off by looking at the clubs and other stakeholders, wanting to get some use out of the facility. We look at their club structures, their ambitions, and their potential and from there we analyze, how a new facility could implement all of this in the best possible way. We have a long and extensive knowledge about the design of gymnastics facilities that we bring to the table, but also listen to your wishes and experiences while making the design. In our opinion, there is no perfect solution for everyone, but we will help find the perfect solution for your situation.
The designs shown above are both projects made for clients, wanting somewhere to grow the membership numbers, skills, and satisfaction in a sustainable way with a focus on following the latest studies about talent development. Both projects are extensions of smaller current facilities and are planned to have a minimum usage number of around their current membership numbers and a maximum usage number of around two to three times their current numbers, based on expectations for expansion and rapid membership growth along with the quality of possible training structures.
The designs are both very similar in their ideas because both projects have a heavy emphasis on creating fun and flexible facilities, built for the playful starting years in the sport, but with an easy transition to facilities, suitable for the later years in specialization, and all the way up to the elite level in their senior years. This means, that instead of focussing on having closely structured training stations all over, the gym is instead split into several smaller activity areas, varying from spaces created for free an unrestricted playing around and onto flexible areas, capable of being transformed to the traditional form with full competition dimensions in equipment.
Ultimately, it can all be summed down to an idea of creating training environments, that look more like the local playground than it does the setups that we know from competitions at the highest levels. Without proper training of the basics, athletes will never reach their full potential and while the elite athletes often (and rightfully) should get a lot of attention, it can be seen clearly in studies, that a bigger recreational department, focusing on the basic foundation of skills, will result in improved talent development, heightened motivation, and even results on the elite level.