What sports hall design resources do you recommend?
Continental Sports offers a free of charge sports hall design consultancy service. All we ask in return is that we are asked to quote to supply the equipment to your hall. We have fitted out more sports halls than any other company in the UK and have probably seen most issues before so we would be delighted to share our experience and knowledge with you.
Sport England provides a very useful guidance note on sports hall design. The first covers all aspects of design of the building including ancillary areas outside the hall itself. This document includes discussions on lighting, colours, changing rooms, construction types etc. - download Sport England Sports Halls: Design.
Sport England also publish a document containing information on the sizes of sports pitches and courts at various levels of play, has been amended and updated in consultation with sporting National Governing Bodies. Please note that there remain certain compromises that are necessary when trying to accommodate a range of sports in one hall and some of the individual guidance must be adjusted in certain circumstances. Continental Sports has significant experience of installing equipment in a multi-sports environment and the compromises necessary, and we would be pleased to discuss with you the current typical practice and compromises that projects are undertaking. Download "Comparative Sizes - Pitches & Courts" document.
STOP PRESS: Sport England has recently (October 2011) announced a change to their standard 4-court sports hall dimensions. Previously the majority of sports halls measured 33m x 18m, but the minimum dimension is now 34.5m x 20m. We will be updating all our court dimensions and advice to reflect this change shortly, but in the meantime please refer to the Sport England document "Developing the Right Sports Hall"
How high should I build my sports hall?
Clear height is by far the most common recurring problem we experience with regard to sports hall design.
Please consider roof height at the earliest planning stage. We regularly see buildings that cannot accommodate recommended clear heights because insufficient consideration was given at the planning stage.
The typical clear height requirements are driven by the guidance of the various sports. The sport that is normally accommodated in a sports hall that has the highest minimum height requirement is badminton. Badminton guidelines require 7,600mm above the finished floor for recreational / club level play and 9,100mm above the finished floor for county level play.
Sport England adopts this guidance in its Design Guidance Note for Sports Hall Design, so the most common clear height requirement is a desire to achieve 7,600mm of clear height in a sports hall.
However, please remember that various services including lighting and possibly heating will need to be above that height. You also need to leave enough space for the depth of trackway and the related bracketry onto which division nets and cricket nets hang - with enough gap between the nets and any Ambi-Rad or similar roof mounted heating - and space for the storage of folded roof retractable basketball goals. We invariably see insufficient space being allowed for in the roof for folded basketball goals – our drawing SH-02 which is available for download in the Architects & Specifiers section of our website makes suggestions as to the minimum allowance to accommodate roof mounted basketball goals.
The guidance from Badminton England is technically that the clear height requirement only needs to be achieved over the courts. The most common problem we see is with curved roof profiles where an imaginary "box" is accommodated over the badminton courts to allow the 7.6m clear height. However, the limiting factor is actually the lowest point of the roof at the eaves as that is where division net trackway is located and that determines the height of all other trackway (e.g. for cricket). Therefore, although there may theoretically be sufficient space over your badminton courts, in practice there will be trackway passing through that space.
Please talk to us at the earliest stage for assistance and advice - we have seen and worked with most shapes and sizes of sports hall and can help you before you repeat any mistakes that we have seen before. Please send your initial drawings to Continental at an early stage and we can comment and provide no obligation advice FREE OF CHARGE. We can then ensure you avoid costly late amendments to the design or problems trying to fit the sports equipment.
STOP PRESS: In October 2011, Sport England announced a change to their standard 4-court sports hall dimensions. Previously the majority of sports halls measured 33m x 18m x 7,600mm, but the minimum dimension is now 34.5m x 20m x 7,500mm. Please refer to the Sport England document "Developing the Right Sports Hall"
What colour should I paint my sports hall’s walls?
There are no hard and fast rules on the colour and we see a range of colours. The important thing is to avoid white. Shuttlecocks are very hard to see against a white background and we would recommend a contrasting non-distracting colour such as a green or a blue is chosen for painted walls. In areas where a white background is required such as indoor cricket, we provide a white canvas sightscreen to highlight the cricket ball.
Sport England are not prescriptive on this matter but their guidance for badminton (the sport where wall colour is most important) is that colours with a reflectance value of 30-50% are found to give the best playing conditions - green (Dulux Colour dimensions code 30 GG 45/362) or an equivalent blue (86 BG 43/321) are suggested. Any doors or coverings should be finished in the same colour as the walls.
As well as the colours shown above we encounter a wide range of alternative colours, some of which are shown below:
Sports hall wall colour examples
How should I set out my lights in the sports hall?
Typically badminton is the primary activity in the hall and the main activity that requires participants to look upwards. It is therefore advisable to arrange lighting so that the strips run between the courts rather than above them so as not to distract or dazzle the badminton players. In a four badminton court hall this normally means 5 runs of lighting across the hall at the sides of each of the badminton courts.
Please remember that all luminaires should be coordinated with the position of netting trackway and that the underside of the luminaires should be above minimum height requirement, and normally above the top of any cricket or division netting trackway (plus an allowance to enable covers to be removed to change bulbs).
I have a central run of lighting and a central division net. How do I accommodate both in my sports hall?
If there is a central division net we are often asked how to deal with that conflict. The important thing is that the division net is centrally located as it is that which will divide the hall in half, and the lights should be accommodated around that.
A division net made of netting at the top does not block much light and does not cast shadows, but we have seen situations where architects have decided to put in two “central” runs of lights, one on each side of the central division net. We have also seen situations where the luminaires on the central run of lights are alternated on each side of the division net, and we have seen situations where the lights are offset to one side by say 200mm. All of these options have been deemed acceptable and often the choice comes down to aesthetic preference.
My client wants to play high level cricket practice in the sports hall as well as badminton. How do I install lights to fulfil both requirements?
For typical school situations with school level cricket practice, the standard badminton arrangement of lighting to give 500 lux is normally sufficient. For higher level practice the cricket bays must be illuminated more strongly to give 750 or 1000 lux. Where required this is normally achieved by having supplementary lighting over the cricket bays on a separate switch, which works with the normal hall lighting to give the augmented light level for higher level cricket practice.
I have seen specific guidance for badminton which states the lighting should be at 5m above the floor. How does this work with the clear height requirements?
There is some Sport England guidance specifically related to badminton. In it, there is a statement that luminaires should be 5m above the floor. This is however only relevant in badminton-specific venues or high level badminton facilities with a 9.1m clear height requirement over the courts. In such halls the luminaires should be positioned to the sides of the courts (never over them) and the lighting is either permanently suspended from the roof at the 5m height, or retractable gantry lighting or individually retractable motorised luminaires can be used in facilities with multi-sport height requirements.
How big should the doors into my sports hall and from the hall into the storeroom(s) be?
The largest items that typically go into a sports hall are folded trampolines. If those are on fixed height stands the doors should be 2200mm high but Continental manufacture SafeLift hydraulically assisted roller stands for trampolines which mean the doors can be standard 2000mm openings. Double doors into the hall and storeroom(s) are essential to enable larger objects to be moved into the hall.
What size should my sports hall storeroom be?
We agree with Sport England in that the best assessment of space is that as long as there is a storeroom available with a floor area at least 12.5% of the floor area of the sports hall then that is sufficient. We have seen 10% being sufficient, but 12.5% is a safer target.
There will be special considerations if you intend to store more than the “normal” level of sports provision. In particular a comprehensive provision for high level artistic gymnastics would require a significant amount of storage space.
Sport England published a briefing note on store room sizes in October 2012 which can be downloaded by clicking the image to the right:
Can you help show my equipment in the storeroom?
We are often asked to “prove” that a sports hall store will accommodate all the items being purchased. However we are reluctant to do this because whilst we have CAD blocks showing the stored dimensions of all our equipment, it is not possible to show on CAD items put on top of other items (as they would be in the real world) and whilst we may be able to show the equipment fits theoretically, it may be that we position the most used item at the back of the store and therefore it doesn’t work practically.
On a practical level it is unlikely that we will be the source of all the items going into the store, and the institution may have legacy items, or other consumable type items purchased elsewhere that we could not show on a drawing.
Our advice is always that if your store is 12.5% of the area of your sports hall then the storage should be adequate.
What secondary steelwork am I likely to need to install in my sports hall?
Secondary steelwork is always necessary for the following:
- Roof mounted basketball goals.
Secondary steelwork is highly likely to be required for the following:
- Wall hinged matchplay basketball goals. We can fix these goals to blockwork walls and have done many times in the past, but these days virtually all structural engineers specify secondary steelwork regardless of the wall construction.
- Electric vertically retracting divider curtains. These items are normally fixed to main roof beams and if that is the case then no secondary steelwork is necessary. If the curtain is to be located away from a beam then secondary steelwork will be required.
Secondary steelwork may be required for the following in certain circumstances:
- Practice basketball goals. Fixed height practice basketball goals can normally be fixed to blockwork as long as the blocks are high enough in the wall. If the goals would be fixed at the level of cladding or similar then secondary steelwork will be required. If you specify hydraulically height adjustable practice basketball goals then due to their weight it is likely that your structural engineer will specify secondary steelwork even if you have sufficiently high blockwork walls. If your practice basketball goals happen to be positioned where vertical columns are situated it is likely we can fix directly to those columns and secondary steelwork will not be required.
- Electronic scoreboards. These are not heavy structures (typically up to 50kg) but they are mounted at high level (5 to 5.5m above FFL) and often in areas where there is nothing load bearing to fix to (e.g. cladding sheets). We will therefore require something to fix to which may be steelwork or could be timber patressing.
Secondary steelwork is unlikely to be required for the following except under special circumstances:
- Division and cricket netting trackway. Our trackway needs to be fixed to the roof structure at least approximately every 5m. Secondary steelwork is virtually never required as we can fix to roof beams, decking, purlins, tie beams etc. but in situations where the main beams are spaced more than 6m apart and if we are prevented from fixing intermediate fixings to the roof deck, then secondary steelwork would be required.
- Trampoline spotting rigs. These are normally fixed under a main roof beam and therefore secondary steelwork is not required. If the location of the rig must be away from a main beam then substantial secondary steelwork will be necessary.
PLEASE NOTE: Continental Sports Ltd are not structural engineers and we do not undertake design work as defined under CDM regulations. We will be pleased to provide all loading and fixing details of our equipment but we then require you to employ a structural engineer to design appropriate secondary steelwork. Once you have initial designs, please forward them to Continental for us to sign off that we can fix to your proposed steelwork before you fabricate and install it.
Does the construction of my floor have to take into account the sports equipment?
The decision regarding floor construction is very important as it can impact on any equipment that you may be installing that requires floor anchorages or sockets.
The strength of the slab and depth of slab is vital in determining whether the floor anchorages that are required for certain equipment will be suitable. For example, if you are installing certain pre-cast concrete slab flooring systems, there may be voids within the slab which may be located underneath a point that needs a floor fixing. If we drill into an area that has a void it may be that there is insufficient concrete to provide a solid fixing - for example certain gymnastics equipment requires a fixing strong enough to accommodate a fixing which will take a 300kg load. You may therefore need to fill in some of the voids to provide a solid area - this can be difficult and expensive to retro-fit.
Standard floor anchorages for gamesposts or gymnastics equipment are set 100mm into the slab and slab thickening is not normally required, however please note that fixings cannot be made into screed or insulation, so if there is a layer of screed and or insulation above the slab then in-situ concrete plinths may be required in order to accommodate the fixings.
For some higher level Schelde socketed gamesposts for volleyball, tennis and similar, floor sockets are required to be set into the slab rather than floor anchorages. To accommodate these style of sockets, your slab should be thickened in the location of the sockets to approximately 400mm deep (this is a maximum depth and shallower depths may be accommodated depending on the type of sports floor – please contact us for further discussions).
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