Street sports in Aalborg

In Aalborg, GAME Streetmekka - the city’s first street sports centre - has opened its doors. An old industrial building has been renovated and converted into a venue for everything from parkour and street football to cultural activities and creative workshops.

Troldtekt acoustic panels have unique sound-absorbing properties and ensure superior acoustics in, for example, sports halls
Photo: Rasmus Hjortshøj/COAST Studio

Aalborg is a city undergoing rapid development. This is particularly evident on the Eternitten plot, a former industrial site a couple of kilometres south of the city centre. Here, an old factory building has been converted into an asphalted street sports centre with help from Pallisgaard, a firm of carpenters and contractors, and JAJA Architects.

“The idea behind GAME Streetmekka is to bring together informal urban activities in a raw industrial environment, and to make street sports and street culture available to everyone throughout the year,” says Kathrin Gimmel, architect and partner at JAJA Architects.

The result is a place where children and young people can come together to play street football, do climbing etc. They can also make music, create graffiti art and dance.

Respect for existing building

The street sports centre is the third of its kind in Denmark. More than 2,500 square metres of the old industrial building have been renovated with respect for the existing architecture.

“It was very important for us to make the most of the rawness of the building. In its heyday, the building housed a variety of functions, and therefore has a wide range of rooms and spaces. Facilities for activities requiring a lot of space and height, such as parkour, basketball and football, have been created in the large hall, which already had a high ceiling, while a dance room and workshops have been established in a number of smaller rooms in the adjoining laboratory wing,” says Kathrin Gimmel.

For a greater sense of coherence between the different levels, the concrete walls and decks have been reshaped. Moreover, balconies have been added to the galleries running the length of the hall, offering impressive views of the centre’s many facilities.

Recycling in many ways

To enhance the raw look, many of the existing installations have been left unchanged – for example the numerous visible steel and heating pipe elements. Moreover, a large proportion of the existing materials have been reused or left untouched.

“Industrial materials are perfect for a street sports centre. Therefore, we’ve retained many of the original concrete walls and the tiled floors in the laboratories. We’ve installed old sinks as water points in the lounge, while old doors have been recycled as wall cladding and used to build the lounge furniture,” says Kathrin Gimmel.

Room for activity and relaxation

In street sports, activity and relaxation go hand in hand. In the design of the interior, this aspect has clearly been factored in, as several of the facilities in the hall can be used for many different purposes.

“Street sports are very sociable activities. The architecture should therefore encourage social interaction. For example, we have built a huge staircase from plywood, which is designed in equal measure for relaxation and various types of exercise,” says Kathrin Gimmel.

The raw concrete and high activity levels require good acoustics. Dark grey Troldtekt acoustic panels have therefore been installed on all the ceilings.

“The acoustic panels harmonise extremely well with the other materials. They have been installed between the original concrete beams for an extremely cool look and to ensure effective sound absorption, which is essential in a street sports centre like this,” explains Kathrin Gimmel.