Training for Tokyo
Centre d’athlétisme de LLN in Louvain-la-Neuve
A world-class athletics hall will open in the tranquil Belgian town of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve in May 2019: the “Centre d’athlétisme de LLN”, a training and competition facility for elite athletes. However, thanks to its architecture and interior design, the hall is also suitable for school and recreational sport – and even for completely different types of sport.
The facility was planned by Atelier d’Architecture de Genval and Chabanne + Partenaires. All sport surfaces are made from Regupol by BSW in Bad Berleburg, Germany.
Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve (31,000 inhabitants) is located in the centre of the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant.
Seven cities had applied for the location of this unique facility. The geographically central location in Belgium and the excellent transport links in connection with the Blocry sports centre finally turned the balance in favour of the Louvain-la-Neuve hamlet.
The Centre d’athlétisme de LLN provides the Blocry sports centre (opened in 1977) with a new focal point which will attract athletes far beyond the country’s borders. There are already inquiries from France and Qatar. The 10,000 m² sports hall is located next to the outdoor athletics facility and turns the sports centre into a year-round venue for training and competition.
The “Blocry Sports Complex” also includes several sports halls, a fitness centre, two inflatable halls, two swimming pools, seven full-size football and hockey fields and the necessary outbuildings. The athletics facility and one of the hockey fields have recently been refurbished.
Centre d’athlétisme de LLN
Architecture and equipment
The facilities have both, special landscape and special urban design features. To the north, the hall is adjacent to a large nature reserve, while to the south it is connected by a pedestrian bridge with the Blocry sports centre. Visitors reach the foyer directly via this bridge.
The bright and open foyer creates visual contact between the visitors, the new hall and the outdoor athletics facility. The interior is largely glazed, so that the sporting activities are visible.
Facilities at the Centre d’athlétisme de LLN include
- 200 metre circular track with six lanes
- 60 m track with eight lanes
- Two facilities each for all jumping disciplines: long, triple and high jump and pole vault
- 100 m training track with jump pit
- Training facility for shot put
- 250 m warm-up track with four lanes
- Outdoor training facility for long jump
- Storage rooms, anti-doping control rooms, physiotherapy,etc.
- Cafeteria overlooking the track
Competitive sport has priority. Nevertheless, the operator also intends to make the hall accessible to local athletics clubs, schools and courses.
Furthermore, the Centre d’athlétisme de LLN is also open to other sports activities, such as judo and other martial arts on mats – or for badminton and table tennis. These sports will be performed in the centre of the hall. Depending on the type of event, there are between 2,500 (athletics) and up to 5,000 spectator seats (if the interior is used) on telescopic stands.
A catering area and offices, some of which are already leased, complete the project, additionally contributing to the profitability of the business.
In November 2018, BSW started with the installation of the track surface in the hall. The work was already completed by February.
The running track system Regupol AG was installed for the competition areas in the hall. This all-rounder already serves stadiums and halls around the world. Seamless, quick and non-slip, it is equally suitable for elite sports and recreational sports – making it ideal for the Centre d’athlétisme de LLN.
Another special feature: The six lanes are the widest that are approved according to the rules of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF). By comparison: the lanes in the athletics hall in Ghent are 90 cm wide, here they are 110 cm. This provides athletes with considerable added comfort.
The 1,000 m² area for the long-jump outdoor training facility was installed in-situ using a polyurethane sprayed coating. This coating named Regupol PD has two advantages: the installation takes less time and it is inexpensive because it requires less effort than a wear layer of interspersed EPDM granules.
The fitness room has an area of 450 m² and is equipped with an elastic, wear-resistant and non-slip everroll fitness floor.
Belgian top athletes such as Ismaël Debjani have already extensively tested the hall, and the tracks in particular – and are thrilled. Debjani, the Borlée siblings and Nafi Thiam will use the Centre d’athlétisme de LLN to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Christian Maigret, Technical Director of the Belgian Athletics Association (LBFA), even promises “incentives” for the medal table.
In any case, the facilities are a fine example of how successful architecture and excellent equipment can literally give a boost to sport and exercise.
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Johannes Bühlbecker, founder
Johannes Bühlbecker is an architect and has worked, among others, for International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) for 15 years – as editorial director of the renowned trade magazine “sb”, in the organisation and realisation of international architectural competitions with IOC and IPC, in trade fairs and conventions, as head of the “NRW Beratungsstelle Sportstätten“ (“NRW Advice Centre for Sports Facilities”) and as a lecturer at the German Sport University Cologne.
- Dipl.-Ing. (engineering degree) Architect, TU Berlin
- Longtime editorial head with “sb”, an international journal for the architecture of sports
- Training in web design, online marketing, etc.
- International architectural competitions with IOC and IPC
- Trade fair and congress organisation
- Head of the “NRW Beratungsstelle Sportstätten“ (“NRW Advice Centre for Sports Venues”)
- Lecturer at the German Sport University Cologne
- Planning of the Prussian Stadium in Münster (for großmann engineers, Göttingen)
- Replanning a football stadium in Berlin-Köpenick
- Numerous publications, i.a. “From Round Leather to Soap Bubbles – The Development of Football and its Architecture”
- Board member and youth coach at SV BW Weitmar 09
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