Monday, January 11, 2010


T-kwadraat in Tilburg, Netherlands by Bo.2 with vh architects

Text and images are courtesy Bo.2; photographs are by Norbert van Onna.

Starting the competition Bo.2, working with vh architects, took the brief as being more than a universal sports hall. The complex and diverse public program drove us to create a site specific sports palace. We wanted to make a recognizable center around which the Stappegoor area could thrive. Stappegoor houses all sorts of urban program including a soccer stadium, colleges, offices, a movie theater, housing and even the local jail. In contrast with common sports halls, this one should embrace the richness of its planned context.

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 T-kwadraat – Dutch for T-square.

Since a sports hall is used very extensively, Bo.2/vh wrapped the main sports hall in 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.

Thus the design aims to define sports as a contemporary social arena. For instance, you can take your kids to soccer practice and do some shopping, while you wait for a friend who is at the physical therapist so you can have a cup of coffee together.

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.