International magazine of architecture and project design march/april 2020

The value of sports facilities in times of emergency 

As Area readers know well, the editorial staff prepare the magazine’s topics well in advance of its issuing, in order to be able to carry out a long and in-depth research work on the chosen topic.  This issue dedicated to the evolution of places and architecture for sport has been accompanied, as always, by an introductory presentation to the topic in order to provide, in addition to a description of the general framework, a summary of the scientific contributions identified.  And as, in my opinion, timely happens, the interests, studies, knowledge, both of the director and of the editorial staff, enrich the cultural offer of the magazine, and likewise an editorial series focused on experimentation and events that, drawn from experiences in the field and on the construction site, often result in autobiography.  For these reasons, with this issue about to go into print, I felt the duty to rewrite these short notes since at the present date the world has been invaded and turned upside down by an unexpected and very fast pandemic that forces me to modify the existing text and add some indications of an absolutely personal nature but which I hope are shared. It is an experience, that of generalised contagion and the closure of non-essential activities, which cannot leave anyone indifferent because it has suddenly presented to the world the harsh account
of the effects of globalisation supported by a fragile system capable of destroying any pre- established certainty. Probably, it will be necessary for everyone, and among
the first those who have the responsibility of physically designing the environment in which we live, to rethink the previous paradigms and beliefs prior to this sad contingency, since many assessments and needs will change. As I write, I endeavour to return to the topic and try to forget the worries that surround us, but this proves impossible, so it is better to try to draw positive ideas and effective lessons from the world and places of sport by trying to understand if there is a connection between what happens and what we are investigating. On the experiential physical level between the sports complexes and the current conditions of isolation, there is total distance since the sports buildings are generally structures designed for aggregate life. Therefore, they are places by definition dedicated to gatherings, while at this moment it is necessary consider isolation as the only “cure”, but perhaps it is more appropriate to say available strategy. Never as in this moment, therefore, do we understand the importance and meaning of the community, of being together, of emotions, of collective shows and of the sense of cities and of living as a necessity for man who is expressed in a constant propensity to live and share his passions and experiences with others. 

Undoubtedly, the values of sport as a discipline indicate a very useful path to take in these times, and in particular the unity of purpose and behavioural coordination in addition to the profound meaning of the word solidarity. For the above considerations, many of the new and more current sports complexes are multifunctional urban buildings that allow for an articulated and continuous use. It is ultimately about optimism and foresight to be supportive and respectful of the rules of self- isolation in order to return as soon as possible to the enjoyment of our desires.

Marco Casamonti 

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