When thinking of a sports building, we always imagine some superstructure with thousands of seating capacity, where a large crowd gathers to watch or participate in a sport. But sports are much more than that, which opens up a universe of possibilities for sports facility design. The sports facilities mentioned below are amongst the world’s most inventive sports facility designs, ranging from timber-clad archery halls to stunning futuristic skate parks. It’s the peak of alternative sporting arenas, and it’s your inspiration for the day.

1. Equestrian Centre by Carlos Castanheira and Clara Bastai | Alternative Sports 

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Equestrian Centre_©Fernando Guerra

The Equestrian Centre was built on a site near Cabo do Mundo beach in Leça da Palmeira, a coastal district north of Porto, by studio founders Carlos Castanheira and Clara Bastai. Each of the structures has a different purpose at the centre: two are utilised as indoor arenas, the third is a stable block, and the fourth housing riding facilities. Outdoor training spaces for jumping and racing, as well as grazing paddocks, complement the two indoor arenas. The sprint track — a narrow, bending strip of ground that runs around the southern boundary of the park – is overlooked by a lake and a swimming pool.

2. Boxing Club and Archery Hall by FT Architects

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Boxing Club and Archery Hall by FT Architects_©Shigeo Ogawa

The Archery Hall and Boxing Club by FT Architects is a stunning sports venue. The combined archery hall and boxing club structures, located on the Kogakuin University campus in Tokyo, Japan, are composed of a woven wooden construction made of low-cost locally obtained timber. The architects want a return to the fundamentals. Both structures were built with a bolt-and-nut assembly, which needed focused precision for the perpendicular design. As the primary feature of the project, both structures required a huge column-free area. The company conducted research and collaborated with timber expertise to develop distinct structural systems for each activity.

3. WMS Boathouse by Studio Gang Architects | Alternative Sports 

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WMS Boathouse_©Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing

Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects designed a boathouse on the Chicago River’s northern bank with a repetitive roofline meant to mimic the alternating motions of a rower’s arm movements. The building’s jagged roof profile was developed by tracking the time-lapse movements of rowing. It is made up of structural roof trusses that alternate between M and upside-down V forms. The building’s façade is coated in a silvery grey combination of slate tiles and zinc panels. Timber lines the interior spaces and extends outside the structure to wrap the insides of balconies and the undersides of overhanging eaves.

4. StreetDome by CEBRA and Glifberg+Lykke

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PORTADA Street Dome_©Mikkel Frost

CEBRA and Glifberg+Lykke designed the Street Dome, a skate and street sports park and cultural complex in Haderslev, Denmark. Street Dome is a big urban arena for street sports, social engagement, and activities. CEBRA’s “Igloo”, or dome-shaped sports hall, features street basketball, skateboarding, parkour, and climbing facilities. The skate park designed by Glifberg+Lykke is divided into three sections: a street plaza, a transition-based flow area, and a park. The dome merges well with the surrounding concrete landscape on the outside. It has wood panels and translucent glass on the interior.

5. Tournesol Swimming Pool by Urbane Kultur | Alternative Sports 

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Tournesol Swimming Pool_©Jean Baptiste Dorner

Bernard Schoeller built the Tournesol Pool, which is a futuristic structure with a dome that can be opened to transform the interior into an outdoor environment. Aside from keeping the building’s appearance, the Urbane Kultur addition added new mixed dressing rooms, remodelled both internal and exterior claddings, and improved the building’s thermal efficiency. The previous roof’s design – 36 metallic arches, one-third of which is retractable – is preserved in this renovation. The building’s outside envelope, on the other hand, has been transformed into a black rubber covering that significantly increases its overall thermal performance. A radial pattern of skylights runs around the complex, each with two layers of translucent glass.

6. Sports and Arts Facilities by BIG

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Sports and Arts Facilities_©Jeans Lindhe

Gammel Hellerup High School asked the Danish architecture firm headed by Bjarke Ingels to design a number of new facilities for its campus in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen. It was created in the school’s courtyard and dug five metres below ground to keep it adjacent to the existing classroom structure. It was then topped off with an arched roof to form a new humped landscape, ensuring that no outside space was lost. The new building is two stories tall. One is completely submerged, while the other rises from the ground in front of the roof of the sports hall. Its roof extends the football pitch’s surface up to create a constructed slope where spectators may sit and watch the games.

7. Equestrian Center by Francisco Mangado

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Equestrian Center by Francisco Mangado_©Pedro Pegenaute

The Elite Equestrian Center, designed by Francisco Mangado, is an attractive facility located in Navarra, Spain, in the heart of Ultzama Valley. The site, the center’s purpose as an equestrian facility specialized in dressage and horse boarding, and the architectural presence of the surrounding buildings, all influenced the design, structure, and organisation of the center. The equestrian facility’s features include steel sheet-covered walls and oakwood used in the interiors, as well as vertical cladding, pavement, and window frames. The roof is also uniform throughout the complex, sloping appropriately along with the various areas or facilities.

8. Cultural and Sports Center by Architektonické Štúdio Atrium | Alternative Sports 

Cultural and Sports Center by Architektonické štúdio Atrium_©Lubo Stacho
Cultural and Sports Center by Architektonické štúdio Atrium_©Lubo Stacho

In the residential neighbourhood of Nad Jazerom in Koice, Slovakia, architectural studio Atrium converted an ancient heat exchanger into a public, cultural, and sports complex. The heat exchanger was one of several tiny thermal stations used to supply heat to nearby housing projects. Atrium created a geometric design and a jagged, projecting exterior for this heat exchanger, one side of which is a rock-climbing wall that visitors may climb. The structure contains five linked stories that have been converted into exhibition spaces, as well as a rooftop with four huge trees and a tourist lounge.

9. Kiteboarding and Windsurfing Center by DO Architects and Aketuri Architektai

The Kiteboarding and Windsurfing Centre_©DO architects + Aketuri Architektai
The Kiteboarding and Windsurfing Centre_©DO architects + Aketuri Architektai

The kiteboarding and windsurfing center in Svencele, Lithuania, was designed and built by DO Architects and Aketuri Architektai in collaboration. The facility comprises 37 temporary containers that have been meticulously structured into a complex of structures that house various functional sections. On the waterfront side, the container complex includes surf shops and schools, as well as a cafe and a stage terrace, and on the inland side, housing and leisure areas. The kiteboarding and windsurfing facility is only one component of a larger proposal to redevelop 30 hectares of an abandoned duck farm into a residential and recreational complex.

10. Brooklyn Boulders by Arrowstreet | Alternative Sports 

Brooklyn Boulders by Arrowstreet_©Ed  Wonski

Brooklyn Boulders is a unique form of communal space where individuals may work and interact while also participating in rock climbing and fitness. The hybrid rock climbing, health, and co-working facilities were designed in collaboration with Brooklyn Boulders Chief Development Officer Chris Ryan. Apart from world-class climbing walls, the Brooklyn Boulders community space features yoga classes, personal fitness and weight training, cafe and lounge spaces, saunas, showers, and locker rooms, as well as a collaborative workspace with tables, chairs, stand-up desks, and plenty of room for meetings and presentations.


  1. ArchDaily. (n.d.). Sports Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/search/projects/categories/sports-architecture
  2. TheCoolist. (2015). The World’s 10 Coolest Sports Facility Designs. [online] Available at: https://www.thecoolist.com/worlds-10-best-sports-facility-designs/

A recently graduated architect, Mohit has a quest to understand the Art and Architecture of our cities. He believes in designing things by understanding the larger context and blending them into the larger environment.