In traditional sport, we have marked edges, lines, and boundaries. These can be circular as well as straight or hard and can offer direction as well as containment. In design, we take edges and boundaries to present pathways, ideas, and vision ideals for people. For us, it is the meeting of people and the gentle collisions that can occur that interest us most. The blurring of these traditional edges allows an opportunity to weave a much wider community, whether that is for various sports groups or the non-sporting community who are touched by adjacent activities and sites.
Whether we are designing local community facilities or large-scale stadia, we see the integration of the Third Place concept as opportunities in our design work. From nationally driven infrastructure based on legacy and the ‘mega-event’, regional/state facilities driven by identity and public sharing on a commercial basis; to local community-based facilities and our personal and intimate homes, founded on domestic understanding. The narrative is that if we can implement those qualities with which we mostly understand in our own homes, into our larger-scale facilities, we will have a better chance of creating a Third Place in our sports infrastructure.
The Design Narrative – Who Cares About It Anyway? Is It Important?
We care because we see sport and community projects as unique projects. In the sense that they are not just a civic hall, a commercial office space, retail, indoor/outdoor, a pub or café, or education space. They are all those things, but not just slight manifestations of each. There is not one typology that fits the description. They – sport, community and leisure facilities designed for local communities – are in their own category of design, primarily due to the complex arrangement of the users, inhabitants, the function, purpose, and relationship to their sites and community. As such, we should all care, and it is important.
Where Can We Go From Here?
Through our work, we have learned that there is another basis at play in our sports facilities that informs the Third Pace. It is an extension of the in-between place whereby our facilities must serve and be regarded as ‘fit for purpose’. That is, the ability to balance as a place between two distinct groups – the high-performance elite and grassroots community levels.
We are constantly challenged for the social and financial balance between these two modes as they look to co-exist in our sports facilities. We are constantly challenged to consider the tension that is between these two groups of users. This tension is created when addressing access rights, functionality on design, specification requirements, hours of operation, rental return, pay-for-use, and of course, the priority of during day-activities and event mode. Each brief and facility are different. However, the way in which we design for history, tradition, site, culture, and the partnering of high-performance and grassroots goes a long way to releasing much of this tension.
“How do we scale for it, and how do we design for it” are the two biggest questions that we seek to answer.
For us, to design successful sports and community facilities, we look for fit-for-purpose outcomes that can occur for both day-to-day and event mode operations. Why? Because this will ensure an embedment of the Third Place into the economic and social plan – leveraging social capital for financial viability. This is about transition and interchange. The more interchange, the more we heave between modes, the more often we can achieve, and the more sustainable the facility will be.
Discover Our Approach To Your Community Or Sporting Facility
We’d love the opportunity to introduce you to our Third Space Thinking™ and show you how through collaboration, we can engage your passionate community to craft a unique facility that has its own successful unique identity and function. A place that leaves its users free to explore the opportunity to make it a place of their own, shaped by their personal memories and most importantly, a place where users can enjoy the emotionally charged in-between places, not just the endpoint.