Architects: NL Architects
Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Architect In Charge: Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk, Kamiel Klaasse
Team: Arne van Wees, Gerbrand van Oostveen
Structural Engineer: ABT Delft
Contractor: PBO Bouw
Photographs: Luuk Kramer, Patrick Bals
Turnaccommodatie Nieuw Welgelegen (TNW) is a sports hall dedicated to Gymnastics. It will not be used for any other sports. Four clubs combine efforts in this new facility.
TNW is the 3rd and probably last building in the redevelopment of the sports complex in the center of Utrecht called Nieuw Welgelegen.
The brief excluded the possibility of creating windows in the hall. This turns out to be the main dilemma for this type of facility: in order to be ‘livable’, daylight is required, but for serious training and competitions windows will cause undesired effects: too much contrast and too much distraction. Windows at eye level are not a good idea.
Furthermore the vulnerability that comes with glass is an issue. Especially in this particular area: not long ago the streets around here used to be paved with shattered glass from cars that had been broken in to.
But the most surprising problem of windows is their transparency: the suspicion is that perverts might try to get a glimpse of the elastic girls inside… As a consequence gymnastics halls often tend to be gloomy.
The idea of TNW is to ‘peel off’ the skin at the top to bring daylight into the interior. By partly bending out the facade a gap comes into being between the roof edge and the walls: indirect light will reflect into the hall.
The carefully deformed envelop creates a mildly glowing gradient that lights up towards the top. A pleasant side-effect of bending out the facade is that the building becomes sculptural: an optimistic gesture comes into being.
A two story service block with dressing rooms, storage spaces, technical installations is placed along side the room in such a way that the facade remains ‘free’. A light-filled double-high corridor provides access to the changing rooms.
Two stairs at both ends of the corridor lead to the grand stand that is placed on top the dressing rooms. The draught lobby bends out, clearly demarcating the entrance. The traditional material to clad large halls -corrugated steel plate- has been deployed in a blissful way: even the obvious corner profile could be avoided.