Zoetermeer (NL), 2020



New sports centre Gymworld is indeed a world in itself! As a leading facility for sports and exercise, Gymworld means to offer both an inspiring and sustainable environment for everyone.

The new sports centre is the answer to a communal housing need for the Gymnastics Club Propatria of the Municipality of Zoetermeer. Not long ago, different training facilities for gymnasts were scattered all over the city. Now, no less than 4000 gymnasts are able to call Gymworld their home, having a top-notch training facility at their disposal. The multifunctional building holds two gymnastics halls, a trampoline hall, a dance studio, free running space, a club room and a sports medical facility. Meaning to inspire, young generations of gymnasts and other athletes should be able to really nurture their talent at Gymworld – as well as those who come in because of recreational reasons. All the spaces for activity have natural light coming in from the windows. Socially, the connectivity between different spaces and the environment is ensured by transparency too. The café on the first floor allows both athletes and visitors to have a nice view over the halls and rooms. Social encounter and interaction are, in this way, at the very heart of the building.

The exterior architecture of the sports centre consists of several volumes that are all suspended from the ground. The composition is reminiscent of an artificial cloud that is floating across the land. Each volume has a different façade design that refers to what goes on inside. For instance, the interplay of lines on the volume that holds the hall for Free Running, is a translation of the movements that the sportsmen make inside. In the same way, the façade design of the trampoline hall refers to the stringing of the trampolines.

Stairs and elevators protrude from the cloud, inviting visitors to enter. The entrance is positioned on the same side as the location of the station nearby; therefore the use of public transport is a very convenient way of coming to the sports centre! The lifting of the entire building not only means a clear view because of the available space on the ground floor, but it is also where parking spaces have been created.

In terms of sustainability measures the sports centre has been built in a very compact way and generates all the energy it uses itself. Solar panels have been installed on the rooftop, and the white colour of the roof prevents heat from building up.

The idea behind Gymworld, as an entire world in itself, concerns the aspect of play that is so important for sports. Design inspiration on this front came from Constant Nieuwenhuys’ art work ‘New Babylon’. These works deal with the notion of how architecture both allows for, and encourages, the transformation of daily reality. ‘New Babylon’ was to be a series of linked transformable structures, some of which were themselves the size of a small city, floating above ground and populated by ‘Homo ludens(ed. Latin for ‘Man at play’ – ‘De spelende mens’).

As a way of life Homo ludens will primarily respond to his need for play, for adventure, for constant mobility, as well as to conditions that facilitate free movement, free running and a free creation of his own reality. The playing man inhabits a world in which one is free to explore, move and play – within the architecture that makes up this world – thus breaking the static borders of everyday life.

Sport signifies a freedom that is about a continuous flow of movement and action. Taking place on a cloud, the nature and meaning of play can find a stage that is essentially imaginative. Through architecture, therefore, a commentary on our communal world, the world of current events, a world of constant change, can come into being. In keeping with the values of VenhoevenCS, the topic of freedom, exploration and sustainability go hand in hand.

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Name: Gymworld
Location: Amerikaweg, Zoetermeer
Program: Sports complex with two gym halls, trampoline hall, dancing/multi functional hall, club house, free running hall, Sports Medical Center.
Surface area: 5100 m2
Assignment: PD, FD, specifications, aesthetic management
Period: 2018-2020
Status: Built
Client: Municipality of Zoetermeer
Awards: Gemma Smid Architecture Audience Award


VenhoevenCS: Jos-Willem van Oorschot, Arjan Pot, Tjeerd Hellinga, Hermen Jansen, Eliza Mante, Max Fleer
Main contractor:Remmers Bouwgroep
Structural engineer:Verhoeven en Leenders
Images: Photos by Ossip van Duivenbode and Marloes Koster