Cox's university sports facility features a glazed atrium

Metal boxes sandwich a glazed atrium at university sports facility by Cox Architecture

Metal-clad boxes stand on opposite sides of a glazed atrium to form this sports education and training facility at the University of Canberra, which features an indoor sprint track (+ slideshow).

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

Designed by Australian firm Cox Architecture, the University of Canberra Sporting Commons is the first phase in a masterplan for a new precinct to support teaching, research and vocational training in the fields of sports sciences.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

It accommodates a range of occupants, including the university's department of health and sciences, and local rugby club ACT Brumbies.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

The building comprises two rectilinear volumes arranged on either side of a central concourse that functions as the main circulation space and incorporates areas for casual seating.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

Members of the local community are able to access the atrium, where a Hall of Fame displays memorabilia dedicated to the achievements of stars supported by the region's sporting associations.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

"A simple planning concept has been adopted for the Sporting Commons to accommodate the needs of multiple shared stakeholders," said the architects in a statement.

"Through both the formal and incidental interactions that occur, the facility fosters relationships and encourages sporting growth on a practical, scientific, and educational level."

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

Facilities located on the northern side of the main concourse include bio-mechanical testing rooms, a physiology research laboratory and an environmental chamber, while the indoor sprint track can be found on the southern side. Identical material finishes were used to create a sense of unity between the different areas.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

Dark sheet metal applied to both external and internal surfaces is intended to give the structure a sense of robustness, which is tempered by the use of plywood panels and timber details that introduce warmth and tactility to the design.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

At one end, the two black volumes extend over a corrugated weathered-steel retaining wall, behind which a passage provides a private route for players heading indoors from the adjacent training pitch.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

Stairs lead from this level to a colonnade lined with slender columns and sheltered by a thin white roof, intended to contrast with the solidity of the metal boxes. Another roofed walkway marks the approach to the main entrance.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

"The expressive northern colonnade acknowledges the pedestrian spine aligned with the main pedestrian link to the university hub, and provides an informal viewing embankment to the northern playing field," the architects added.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX

Cox Architecture has offices all across Australia. The firm also recently completed another project in Canberra – a lightweight glass and steel extension to a heritage-listed house.

University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX
Masterplan – click for larger image
University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX
Floor plan – click for larger image
University of Canberra Sporting Grounds by COX
Sections – click for larger image