Design Studio WS 03/04

Sports in Town


The starting point for strategic and spatial design considerations on this topic is the listed building of the Akademisches Gymnasium am Beethovenplatz ( Behind a picturesque façade are two rooms in operation as “gymnasiums”, whose function and dimensions are more than questionable. Restrictive conditions regarding the protection of historical monuments as well as extremely limited spatial expansion possibilities raise the idea of an architectural intervention “sub terra” as well as a possible relocation into the pedestrian environment. In particular, the question of the possible added value of such an outsourced sports facility arises. Should it be possible to attract a paying public outside school hours? How could an architecture of movement manifest itself in the inner-city space? In what way can the potential conflict between contemporary spatial requirements and the historically preserved ambience be managed? The challenge of the program thus consists on the one hand in the reinterpretation of the movement space, and on the other hand in dealing with the “protected” and conserved environment.


The project requires the development of a concept for the problem at hand. Subsequently, the implementation of the design on a scale of 1:100 (plan representation, model construction) is to be provided. In addition, characteristic areas are to be depicted on a scale of 1:20. The design exercise can be completed as a four-hour or eight-hour program or as a combination (4+8=12 hours).


Sporting activities are sometimes able to give a building dedicated to such a purpose its own character. In one way or another, it is possible to pay homage to the specific movement or just to give a dynamic sign to the physical activity in general. In any case, sport is able to make itself “heard” through a building structure. The designs presented, especially the free-standing contributions, demonstrate this all too clearly. In Herbert Berger’s project, for example, the cubature is relegated to an elevated box, but the two-layered façade schematically traces the movements inside and is used in places as an information screen. The glass cube thus becomes an eye-catcher and urban event, especially at night. Richard Egger presents the urban gymnasium in a different way. His design, which is also detached, can also be used directly for sports on the outside surface. The basketball court on the roof merely underscores the prevailing basic idea of turning the building itself into a stage for all kinds of sporting activities. The Mov’in Tube, the third free-standing design, makes the building itself appear as a kind of oversized sports or fitness equipment. A translucent sports course delimits two playing areas and allows the large-format building to be seen as an enlarged piece of playground equipment.Those two designs, which are integrated into the perimeter walls of the existing school building, find specific expression essentially in the area of the schoolyard. While Thomas Hanreich’s project is still characterized by a relatively restrained architectural language, Georg Niessner’s concept of a three-dimensionally shaped roof structure already proves to be an acrobat within the existing structure. In the second case, the existing courtyard and the adjacent facades are subjected to an almost artistic re-examination, while in the first project the primary concern is to leave the existing characteristics largely untouched, even though the expansion of the interior undoubtedly represents a significant change in the spatial structure. In any case, all the projects presented here are characterized by the fact that they not only offer the potential user the possibility of practicing the sport, but at the same time also open up an extension of previously known perspectives. The architectural space, or rather the architectural form, thus becomes an event in itself, so to speak, whereby the building structure already demands a certain basic level of activity of its own accord.