Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden
slats by Explorations Architecture

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Curved walls made from sun-bleached timber slats screen the exterior of this sports centre by Explorations Architecture in the French commune of Arpajon, near Paris (+ slideshow).

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

French office Explorations Architecture was asked to design the Lardy Sports Hall for a site on the edge of a park, so the architects developed a building with a near-elliptical plan to align with surrounding tree rows and an adjacent BMX track.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

"We thought the elliptical shape would fit harmoniously into the sports park within the existing facilities," project architect Marie Ferrari told Dezeen. "The building is more a landscape element around which the routes roll around."

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

The wooden screens wrap most of the building's exterior and are constructed from strips of Douglas fir, intended to help the building fit into its parkland setting.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

"We wanted quality materials, natural and renewable," said Ferrari. "Instead of using metal cladding, which usually constitutes the envelopes of sports and industrial buildings, the wood helps to give lightness to the architecture."

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

The timber facade is broken in three places to reveal a pair of matching courtyards at the south end of the plan and a glazed curtain wall along the northern elevation.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

The main sports hall is positioned directly behind this glazed wall, allowing it to benefit from long hours of sunlight. Its features include a climbing wall and rows of bleachers that stretch along one edge.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

A smaller multi-purpose room is located on the opposite side of the building. Two walls are glazed and face out onto the courtyards on either side.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

Changing rooms, toilets, offices and other facilities line the edges of a corridor that cuts through the building's centre and accommodates the entrance lobby at one end.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

Photography is by Michel Denancé. Aerial photography is by Altélia.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

Here are some extra details from Explorations Architecture:


Lardy Sports Hall

The building's elliptical form is naturally inscribed within the existing curvilinear landscaping. The park and sports hall interpenetrate in three important locations: twice in the south-facing patios and again in the "verdant theatre" facing north.

Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture

The facades are conceived as a natural wood screen wrapping around the building. Alternating between opaque, filigree, and open space, the screen becomes both a fenced enclosure and a refined brise-soleil.

Site plan of Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture
Site plan - click for larger image

The building plan is stratified in three principal bands: a multi-sport gymnasium and bleachers, support spaces and multipurpose room.

Floor plan of Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture
Floor plan - click for larger image

The gymnasium is principally illuminated by a north-facing curtain wall. The multipurpose room is lit along its west and east facades which are protected by the brise-soleil of the patios.

Elevation one of Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture
Elevation one - click for larger image

A hot air and water pump serves as the principal heating system throughout the building and reduces demand on the gas heater.

Elevation two of Sports centre clad with sun-bleached wooden slats by Explorations Architecture
Elevation two - click for larger image

Design team: Explorations architecture + Snc Lavalin
Client: Communauté de Communes de l'Arpajonnais
Brief: gymnasium and multipurpose room
Net Area: 3000 sqm
Cost: €4 million
Timeframe: 2007-2012