All squared off

03 Feb 2010

Abstract sports centre in the Netherlands completes

T-Kwadraat, Dutch for T-Square, is the latest addition to the rapidly developing city quarter Stappegoor in Tilburg in the south of the Netherlands. This public sports palace is supposed to serve as a pioneer in the heart of the masterplan. The typology of the building confirms this ambition: the combination of sports and living in an urban environment can be experienced within an exceptional shell.

T-kwadraat was designed by architecture firms Bo.2 and Van Hoogmoed after winning a design competition in the summer of 2005, competing with established Dutch firms like Mecanoo and Zwarts and Jansma. The sports palace was opened in the winter of 2009 and includes a top sports hall stacked upon a fitness centre, a sports medical facility, various bars and restaurants, a daycare centre. It also includes a climbing hall and a ice-skating rink named after local Olympic gold medalist Ireen Wüst.

From the outside the building appears to be an abstract monolith with randomly placed oval windows. When approaching, finer details show in different patterns on the façade until the interior is unveiled behind the glass façade of the plinth. The texture on the façade is an adaptation of the logo used to brand the city of Tilburg. It earned the building its name.

The architects made the main sports hall central to the plans, surrounding it with the other elements of the program. This way a compact dynamic interior is created. On entering one passes the climbing wall and some cafés before arriving in the gorge which is a giant open space lit by daylight, visually as well as physically connecting all spaces and activities. The shapes of the stacked plateaus and of the walls refer to the building as being a massive split rock sparkling with activity. These seemingly random natural shapes are in fact meticulously designed so that from different places views to various sports related activities are opened.

Although the building is very complex the gorge makes it easy to find your way around. Further relating the exterior to the interior, ovals containing information are printed on walls and floors guiding visitors to wherever they need to go. Their size and the use of iconic silhouettes combined with the gorge’s transparency make it possible for visitors to find their way as they move through the building.

Key Facts

Sport in architecture

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