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Designing a sporting and recreational facility in Queensland

December 4, 2018

In a previous blog I mentioned the need to design not only to a client’s brief, but also take into consideration location and environment. Before meeting with CDA, there are a few things to consider when putting together your ideas.  Some may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many of the practical things get missed when clients have the ‘big’ picture in front of them.

Top 10 things to consider when building in Queensland!


       1.      Location – will you be easy to get to, is there public transport, how visible are you                       from the road? There is no point in building a state-of-the-art facility if no one knows                   you are there. 


       2.     Orientation and slope of block – West facing? Think of the sun/shade.  For example,                  putting an outdoor pool completely in shade all day not only makes the pool cold, it                  reduces the number of months per year you can use and increases your heating bill! If                you have land with a steep slope, this will increase building costs and directly impact                  on the design.


       3.     Car parking – think about your customers, your target audience.  Will they be driving                  4WDs, do you need bus parking, where will you put disabled parking, are the parks                    wide enough for say parents juggling bags and small children or prams, does traffic                    flow quickly, in one way and out a different access point?


        4.    Insurance – it may seem strange to think of insurance this early on but research the                      local area.  Queensland is prone to flooding, cyclones and bush fires.  Is the location                  you have in mind in the middle of a flood zone?  Will special consideration need to be                given to the design, elevation or the structure itself if you are in an area of high risk. 


        5.    Accessibility and services – ramps, access in and out of playing fields for players and                  spectators.  Bathrooms, change rooms, parent rooms.  Will you offer a play room or a                ‘kids club’, will your facility offer speciality services such as treatment rooms or                            conference facilities? What are the requirements for fire exits, lifts, pool, security, and                safety.


         6.    Acoustics – will your facility be multi-use? For example, I recently attended a function                 in a meeting room where the coffee machine and café portion for the whole building                 was at the back of the room – every time someone ordered a juice or a coffee you                       couldn’t hear the key note speakers. Will you be holding music events, how close are                 your neighbours?  High ceilings, open plan, banks of windows or louvers are great if                   you open on to an empty paddock next door but not if you are right next to                                 residential. 


         7.   Sustainability – sports and recreational facilities and community buildings are                              designed to hold large numbers of people.  Think about how you can reduce the                        buildings footprint.  Can you use solar power, can you design for natural ventilation,                  water tanks, what kind of landscaping will help with shade or are there recycled                            materials you can use?


          8.   Building materials – cost obviously comes into play when choosing the right                                 materials but also weigh up maintenance.  Timber looks amazing, but the harsh                           Queensland sun can also mean constant re-staining and sealing.  Instead of using                       metal for outdoor seating think about other materials that may not cause harm to                       spectators in the middle of summer and colours – blacks and dark colours absorb                       heat and given the number of summer days we have are there more natural tones                       that could keep things cooler?


          9.   Flow of traffic – not just cars.  The practical flow of people inside of the building.                         Registration desk, reception, canteen, amenities such as showers and toilets and                         door openings.  Mentally ‘walk through’ the design with us and see if you are                               creating any concerns, further into the process 3D modelling may be useful as well.                     For example, at breakfast at a lovely new café, the counter to pay was quite literally                     at the front door, when more than 2 people were lined up to pay no one could open                   the front door.


         10.  Capacity - how many people are you catering for?  Legally, how many can you have in                 the building.  Think about maximum capacity of say - numbers of teams playing,                         spectators and possibly the conference room being full.  Also, how many people do                   you need to be using the facility each day to make the numbers stack up?


These 10 dot points are simply a starting point for planning and design.  Answer each of these before coming along to your first meeting with CDA and you will be well on the way to understanding not only what you want to design but who the end user is. 


Queensland’s weather is spectacular, we are really lucky, but it can also be very harsh.  Harsh not only on buildings and external structures but also on the users for the building. Whether you are designing and building a new sports and recreational facility or perhaps upgrading an existing community centre each project comes with a unique set of challenges.  Understanding the location and environment, along with a strong sense of who you want to attract to your facility will mean you are creating a space that will be well used. 

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