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Mike Hall - Architect’s Notebook: Healthy Cities - Happy Cities

In his latest in a series of columns, FaulknerBrowns Architects' Mike Hall explores the importance of sustainable, carefully considered sports facilities and how they can contribute to healthy, active cities

by Mike Hall, FaulknerBrowns Architects | Published in Sports Management 2014 issue 4
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
The Derby Arena – playing a part in plans to make Derby the most active city in the UK
The Derby Arena – playing a part in plans to make Derby the most active city in the UK

You may have blinked and missed it, but 6 October 2014 was World Architecture Day. This year's theme was Healthy Cities – Happy Cities and underlining it was the role good design can play in creating health and happy environments for people.

In terms of activity and participation, there are a number of cities in England which may rightly lay claim to the top participation honours. Sheffield frequently comes out as one of the top performing cities. Major landmark facilities such as Ponds Forge International Sports Centre and the English Institute for Sport have played a key role in contributing to community participation and elite training.

Manchester, UK can also boast its place as one of the highest performing cities, especially when the efficient cost of delivering these services is factored in. Manchester Aquatics, built to host all of the water-based disciplines for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, is still one of the world’s most flexible pool complexes. Its central arterial location on Oxford Road also means that it is at the heart of one of the most sought after student locations in the country. This contributes to a healthy balance of community, student and high performance usage with a staggering 750,000 users through the turnstiles each year. Manchester City Council has consistently targeted a number of key sports development programs through to national and international events.

Manchester’s National Cycling Centre has just celebrated its twentieth birthday and is still the world’s most well used indoor cycling facility, having provided the bedrock for Britain’s cycling success on the track for the last three Olympic Games.

There is, however, a new kid on the block. Derby City Council has a vision to be ‘the most active city in the UK’. FaulknerBrowns were involved in the early stages of implementing Derby's leisure strategy, which included a technical review of wet and dry hub facilities as well as a series of satellite locations.

Building on lessons learnt from projects in Sheffield and Manchester, the recently completed Derby Arena – which incorporates a cycle track – is one of the most innovative facilities of its type in the world. Designed by FaulknerBrowns to break down barriers, the internal 250m track was lifted up one storey in height to create a stronger, more active connection to the Arena’s interior.

These connections are expressed on the outside of the building, literally lifting the skin of the building to define a clear entrance sequence, welcoming all members of the community into the building. This approach has driven improved access to a range of activities, including court sports and health and fitness, in addition to cycling. Importantly, the building is also flexible enough to accommodate revenue producing concerts and non-sports events.

In line with the aspiration of World Architecture Day, we share a strong belief in the role which carefully considered, sustainable and quality sports facilities play in contributing to healthy, active cities.

Mike Hall, sports partner, FaulknerBrowns
Tel: +44(0)191 2683007
e: m.hall@faulknerbrowns.co.uk
w: www.faulknerbrowns.co.uk

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