About the project
Continuing a relationship which spans 40 years, Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) recently completed the new Sports & Performing Arts Centre of Excellence (The SPACE) for the Dubai College. SPACE is the most ambitious project of the planned upgrade of the school to date. Located on a condensed part of the site at the back of the campus, the project required the demolition of the existing swimming pool and sports hall to free up valuable land for the new 5,500 square metre development.
From the outset, the 900 square metre multi-purpose gym with indoor running track was designed to be a central hub within the SPACE and occupies most of the ground floor. It is supplemented by a number of flexible student spaces to foster a relationship between the physical movement and the science behind it, allowing teachers to combine the practical with the theory. Also on the ground floor is a new swimming facility that can be directly accessed from the outside without the need to go through the sports hall. It includes a 300-seat spectator viewing area and electronic touch timing system making it ideal for galas and other water sports events. On the first floor, the 1,100 square metre sports hall is designed for two basketball and two netball courts with retractable bleacher style seating for around 500 spectators. The size of the sports hall and its unique layout with a show court running in the opposite direction to the second court and a dividing curtain allows the school the flexibility and capacity to increase the number of activities and to be able to host large tournaments.
The performing arts was also a key consideration for the SPACE with the creation of a black box drama performance space with seating for 140, plus drama rooms, music classrooms and music practice areas. A rooftop MUGA court and student café have also been incorporated along with a unique hall of fame showcasing the achievements of the school.
GAJ chose two different specialist suppliers for the flooring. For the gym area it was vital to select flooring that was going to be high-traction and slip-resistant, and be able to absorb moderate levels of impact. For the sports hall the flooring had to be capable of bearing loads from retractable seating and other specialist equipment without sustaining damage. The solid hardwood needed to be durable and easy to maintain and, most importantly, provide the ergonomic support for students to enable optimal performance.
With space at a premium the design team had a challenging footprint to work with and so prioritizing how the space would be used was crucial. The aim was to create more facilities and space to accommodate a greater range of activities and make it easier for timetabling. The team also had to consider the flow in and around the sports facilities and, while the areas of The SPACE are designed to work harmoniously, they also needed to be zoned for different events.