Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen
by NL Architects

| 3 comments
 

This gymnasium in Utrecht by Dutch studio NL Architects has no windows but features walls that swell outwards to let light in from above (+ slideshow).

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

The architects wanted to fill the hall with natural light but were worried that glass walls would create glare and that gymnasts might become too distracted by the views outside.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

"This is perhaps the main dilemma for this type of facility," NL Architects explained. "In order to be 'livable', daylight is required, but for serious training and competitions, windows will cause undesired effects."

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

The architects were also worried that transparent glass would attract unwanted spectators for female gymnasts. "Windows at eye level are not a good idea," they added.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

Instead of glass, the exterior walls are made from corrugated steel and they sweep outwards at the top to allow for a line of skylights around the perimeter of the roof.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

These skylights allow daylight to reflect onto the inside surfaces of the walls but prevent direct sunlight from disrupting activities.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

Changing rooms, toilets and storage areas are grouped together along one side of the hall and spectator seating is positioned on a mezzanine above.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

This year Amsterdam studio NL Architects also designed a cycle-hire shop in China with a velodrome on the roof - see more stories about NL Architects.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

See more sports centre on Dezeen »

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

Photography is by Luuk Kramer.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

Here's some more text from NL Architects:


Gym Hall, Turnzaal Nieuw Welgelegen, Utrecht

Turnaccommodatie Nieuw Welgelegen (TNW) is a sports hall dedicated to Gymnastics. It will not be used for any other sports. Four clubs combine efforts in this new facility. TNW is the 3rd and probably last building in the redevelopment of the sports complex in the center of Utrecht called Nieuw Welgelegen.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

The brief excluded the possibility of creating windows in the hall. This turns out to be the main dilemma for this type of facility: in order to be ‘livable’, daylight is required, but for serious training and competitions windows will cause undesired effects: too much contrast and too much distraction. Windows at eye level are not a good idea.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

Furthermore the vulnerability that comes with glass is an issue. Especially in this particular area: not long ago the streets around here used to be paved with shattered glass from cars that had been broken in to. But the most surprising problem of windows is their transparency: the suspicion is that perverts might try to get a glimpse of the elastic girls inside. As a consequence gymnastics halls often tend to be gloomy.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

The idea of TNW is to ‘peel off’ the skin at the top to bring daylight into the interior. By partly bending out the facade a gap comes into being between the roof edge and the walls: indirect light will reflect into the hall.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

The carefully deformed envelope creates a mildly glowing gradient that lights up towards the top. A pleasant side-effect of bending out the facade is that the building becomes sculptural: an optimistic gesture comes into being.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

A two story service block with dressing rooms, storage spaces, technical installations is placed along side the room in such a way that the facade remains ‘free’.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

A light-filled double-high corridor provides access to the changing rooms. Two stairs at both ends of the corridor lead to the grand stand that is placed on top the dressing rooms. The draught lobby bends out, clearly demarcating the entrance.

Gym Hall Nieuw Welgelegen by NL Architects

The traditional material to clad large halls - corrugated steel plate - has been deployed in a blissful way: even the obvious corner profile could be avoided.

  • Pluk vd Petteflet

    NL Architects is not ceasing to impress! I like the window problem solution and the final result very much.

  • marco

    Simple, clever, excellent.

  • internautas

    I like how they made clean and simple architecture with really cheap materials.