Willem-Alexander Sports Park in Schiedam by MoederscheimMoonen Architects

published in sb 2/2017

Sport above the motorway

How can you make a motorway section attractive and functional for local residents? This is the question MoederscheimMoonen Architects set to work on for the Municipality of Schiedam. They devised a unique solution for a stretch of the A4 motorway between the Dutch cities of Delft and Schiedam. The result is a wonderful green park and a new sports location that will definitely appeal to the imagination. Located some six metres above the motorway, the sports fields are enclosed by one of the largest ‘canvases’ in Europe. Together with the fence manufacturer, the architects created no less than 8,500 m² of colourful fencing that consists of over 1.6 million tangible ‘pixels’.

Initially, the tunnel and the motorway formed a barrier between the two adjacent residential areas. But the new design has now achieved the opposite. By realising the park and sports fields on top of the tunnel itself, it has literally created new connections between the two resi­dential areas. They offer an environment for everyone living in the area – young and old –
to exercise and relax in.

The complex and multidisciplinary nature of this assignment is reflected in the multiple use of space on top of and around the tunnel. Sports fields are located on the roof of the tunnel section. The design features concrete canopy structures on both sides of the tunnel. Under the canopy on the northern side are four cages for baseball, softball and cricket, as well as a 7-lane running track. The car park is situated on the southern side of the sports park, providing 600 parking slots, 400 of which are covered.

The main building is situated in the heart of the park, between the elevated sports fields. As such, it has a direct relationship with the surrounding athletics activity. The building houses a sports hall, changing rooms for various indoor and outdoor sports, rooms for dance and ballet, and a large catering establishment with terrace seating. The terrace takes the shape of a plateau. ‘Hovering’ between the building’s different levels, it forms a transitional zone between the different street levels. The building’s overall design is characterised by the prominent expressive qualities of the fresh green roof and terrace awnings that emphasise the complex’s layered nature.

Colourful ‘pixel’ fencing

The fields are enclosed by a screen that not only guarantees safety at the location but also mitigates the negative effects of the wind. For its design, the architects teamed up with a specialist firm, known for its innovative architectural woven fabrics. They jointly developed a new product consisting of colourful ‘pixels’, named Dedots. These pixels are far more than just a pragmatic solution: they lend the environment its own identity, with every square metre in the 1.2-km screen realised according to a unique design. This has resulted in a functional work of art that presents an exciting combination of transparency, permeability to air and imagination. It merges everything that the project is about: nature, sports, connections and energy.

The whole environment of Willem-Alexander Sports Park is designed for sport, recreation, business, organisations and residents. With its fine features and long opening hours, this is the sport, gathering and meeting place where everyone, organised and non-organised, will be satisfied.