Dating back to centuries before, humankind has always appreciated sports and incorporated it into their lifestyle. As its popularity has skyrocketed over the years, so has the need for adequate sports facilities. Today, sports architecture is one of the most popular construction branches because sports have become one of man’s most engaging activities. Unlike decades ago, sports facilities have evolved from ancient fighting arenas and spas to large buildings hosting thousands of athletes and spectators. Given the high demand for these facilities and the safety they require, the role of architects in sports facilities is undoubtedly very crucial.  

Demands of Sports Facilities 

The types of necessary sports facilities have evolved parallel to creating new sports over the years. Since every sport has specific requirements of its own, the structures in which they are performed must be uniquely tailored. For instance, the facility in which javelin would be performed is very different from where a basketballer would play basketball. For this reason, an architect has to be well aware of each sport and their demands. The requirements for sports facilities differ and can be categorized into three main groups. These would be the needs of the athletes, other related sportsmen and the spectators.  

1. Demands of Athletes in Sports Facilities 

One thing that all types of architecture have in common is the need for functionality. Each building has to answer to the needs of its users and in sports facilities, the main users are athletes. For an architect to design a functional building, they need to have an understanding of the sport and how it works. By understanding the basic requirements, the role of an architect in designing a sports facility will be more smooth sailing.  

The Role of the Architect in Sports Facilities - Sheet1

As safety is a huge necessity in sports facilities, it’s the architect’s responsibility to ensure that safety is not compromised. The dimensions of facilities have to be accurate and the distance between various structure facilities also has to be carefully planned out. The proper dimensions in sports facilities are a vital part for an architect to consider because any errors can lead to several problems. This could be the failure of athletes to perform the sport correctly or even lead to accidents. For example, an architect designing a swimming facility should know the proper dimensions of different pools like semi-Olympic and Olympic pools. This will ensure that the sport is performed correctly. In other instances where safety is critical and accidents are prone to happen, it is crucial to have a medical area close by. This will ensure that athletes can be treated as quickly as possible.  

Time plays an important factor in sports and this factor isn’t different in sport facilities. When an architect has a clear understanding of the sport and the needs of the athletes, they will ensure that facilities are placed in the best way possible, failure to which makes it difficult for athletes to navigate a building and lose a lot of time.  

The Role of the Architect in Sports Facilities - Sheet2

2. Demands of the other Sportsmen 

Every sport is made up of players and a coach or a facilitator. Facilitators help train athletes and ensure that the sports are performed the right way. In most cases, the larger the team, the larger this group of people becomes. Even though a racer would perform the activity by themselves, they have a whole team to ensure that they can perform to their maximum potential. For the player to perform to their best, the needs of the team have to be met and it’s an architect’s role to ensure that this is done. The demands in sports facilities could be changing rooms, storage rooms, offices, board rooms ,and private entrances and exits.  

The Role of the Architect in Sports Facilities - Sheet3

3. Demands of Spectators 

Large stadiums and arenas that can hold thousands of people can be found in almost every country globally, and there’s no surprise why. People still love to enjoy a sport even though they aren’t playing. Hence, an architect needs to understand the needs of spectators in sports facilities. Sports facilities do not only cater to the needs of the athletes but those of the thousands of fans that come to these places for entertainment.  

Today, sports facilities have to be visually pleasing and stimulating enough to attract more and more fans. An architect’s role is to ensure that spectators can easily enter premises and have plenty of amenities within the sports facilities. Depending on the community, these sports facilities can cater to the neighbourhood and act as a socializing area. When this is necessary, sports facilities can provide many more services like communal open and closed spaces, food courts, cinemas and even exhibition spaces. 

The Role of the Architect in Sports Facilities - Sheet4

The Role of Architects in Sports Facilities 

The role of architects in sports facilities is vital because it can influence how effectively a sport is performed. One of the most important things to consider is safety. During the design process, an architect needs to ensure the safety of every person that uses the facility. As the measures of safety are dependent upon the sport, the architect needs to understand the sport and the possible accidents that could occur. Motor racing, rodeo and baseball are examples of the most dangerous sports for spectators, and architects need to ensure that these facilities are designed to the proper standards.  

In today’s progressive world, sports facilities are a point of awe for many for how beautifully designed they are. Even though functionality sits on top of the requirements list, beauty sits next to it, and it’s an architect’s role to execute this properly. 


Zyabo M'hango is an art enthusiast with a huge case of wanderlust. She believes that all forms of art intertwine as one and hence her pursuit of bringing Architecture and writing as one. When she's not working on her design projects, she's planning her next travel destination.

Write A Comment