Sports Architecture: Best materials ( PTFE, ETFE )

Sports Architecture: Best materials ( PTFE, ETFE )

Richard Coulson – Architecture & Design

Sport is undeniably a cornerstone of human activity, offering a multifaceted experience that encompasses participation, recreation, competition, and entertainment. Whether it’s the thrill of scoring a goal, the camaraderie of team play, or the excitement of watching elite athletes in action, sport has the power to captivate and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds. However, the creation of sports architecture venues entails more than just providing a space for athletic endeavors; it requires thoughtful consideration of various elements, with the overarching goal of celebrating the joy of movement and fostering a special spectator atmosphere.

Sports Architecture

In the realm of sports architecture, designers face the challenge of balancing functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability to create venues that meet the needs of athletes, spectators, and communities alike. From iconic stadiums to local recreation centers, sports architecture plays a vital role in shaping the urban landscape and enhancing the quality of life for residents.


Moreover, sports architecture competes for funding with other critical sectors such as arts, culture, transport, health, research, and education. In an environment of limited resources, it is essential to demonstrate the value and impact of sports architecture on society, economy, and well-being. Investing in sports architecture not only promotes physical activity and healthy lifestyles but also stimulates economic growth, tourism, and community cohesion.

The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games exemplified the intricate balance between the benefits and challenges of hosting major sporting events. While such events can showcase a city on the global stage and attract visitors and investment, they also pose risks, including financial strain and infrastructure legacy issues. The Games highlighted the importance of strategic planning and sustainable design in creating venues that serve the needs of athletes and communities long after the event has ended.

sports architecture

One of the key concerns in sports architecture is the longevity and usability of venues post-event. There is significant evidence of venues from past major events, such as the Olympic Games and World Cups, falling into disrepair or becoming obsolete due to factors like lack of maintenance, limited functionality, and insufficient utilization. Designing venues with flexibility, adaptability, and multi-purpose functionality can help mitigate these risks, ensuring that sports architecture remain relevant and valuable assets for years to come.

In conclusion, sports architecture plays a crucial role in shaping the urban environment, promoting physical activity, and fostering community engagement. By prioritizing sustainable design practices, strategic planning, and multi-functional use, sports architecture venues can become enduring symbols of civic pride and vitality, enriching the lives of people and communities for generations to come.

Cox Architecture recently designed two venues for the 2018 Games. A third venue, the Cairns Convention Centre designed in 2004, was also used.

The Anna Meares Velodrome and the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre (named throughout the Games as the Optus Aquatic Centre) were both designed to deliver an unparalleled sporting atmosphere for the two weeks of the Games as well as for many years to come. They each have their own unique approach to demonstrating excellence, value and ongoing community benefit.

Cox Architecture won the competition for the Anna Meares Velodrome, situated in the Sleeman Sports Complex at Chandler in December 2013.

The Complex included an original but outdated concrete Velodrome from the 1982 Commonwealth Games. Cox designed the new Velodrome to align with the updated international standard cycling lengths  in sports architecture and technologies. World class velodromes now have timber tracks and are enclosed stadia to protect the track, allowing all weather riding and control of additional climatic conditions including wind and light. The track itself is an amazing piece of joinery, and its craftmanship is an inspiration for the entire building design as it is well known in sports architecture.

The stadium has a diverse range of facilities that provide ongoing community legacy benefit and mean it has a genuine post-Games life. It can operate as a competition or training track, and includes a public gym, and hirable function space. The infield is used for court sports like futsal and school physical education, with operable nets separating this space from the track. The concourses are used for yoga and Pilates, and the kiosk and public amenities can serve both the Velodrome and adjacent BMX track.

While our strategy to ensure the longevity of the Velodrome revolved around enclosing and preserving the track, our strategy for the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre was to bring the main pools outdoors, enhancing the usability, sustainability, and general enjoyment of the outdoor venue.

Working with the client, we saw that adaptability was the key element of the project. The elevated concrete decks were central to executing this strategy. The challenge was to do so in a configuration that supported the requirements for a fundamental change in operations between the community venue and the event venue. The venue has an even more dramatic change of profile than the Velodrome between its daily use and the Commonwealth Games event; moving between a 1,000 seat and 10,000 seat condition.

The venue operates across a range of high performance for Australia’s elite swimmers and divers, and receives almost water park-like unbridled enthusiasm from locals. Recently, The Australian reported patronage had risen from 170,000 a year to 589,000 in 2016-2017.

Both venues have a great potential for joy, longevity and community value. They have been a delight to be involved with and provide strong guidance for our future work.

Thirty-six years on from the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, the sports architecture remain largely the same but the infrastructure and strategy behind the infrastructure could not be more different. It is with this reflection in mind we design versatile, functional stadia that serve multiple groups, purposes, and most importantly, their local communities.