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An international contest is being held for a new £6.8 million (200 MILLION CZK) sports hall for ball games in the town of Žatec, Czech Republic (Deadline: 18 March)
The single-stage competition seeks proposals for a new multi-functional sports hall which will primarily be used for ball games such as football, basketball, floorball, futsal, volleyball and handball, and must be suitable for both training and competitive matches.
The project – backed by the Municipality of Žatec – will transform a large publicly-owned plot on the southern side of the settlement which is currently bordered by housing on one side and a lumber yard on the other. Land nearby to the south has also been earmarked for additional outdoor recreational spaces which are set to be delivered in a later phase.
According to the brief: ‘The town of Žatec announces an architectural competition for a new sports hall, which will be used mainly for ball games. The aim of the competition is to select the most suitable architectural solution designed with regard to the overall economy of the building.
‘The new sports hall must be able to host competitive matches and training processes. Full use during school hours and in the evenings by both the public and local sports clubs is envisaged.’
Located around 70km northwest of Prague, Žatec is a small town of around 19,000 inhabitants located on the Oh?e River which is famous for producing Saaz hops used in beers around the world. Local landmarks include Svobody Square, the Holy Trinity Column, and the Temple of Hops and Beer tourist attraction.
Proposals for the site should include a 900-capacity competitive playing area along with exercise rooms, service areas, storage facilities, a social area, reception space, refreshment zone, and overnight accommodation.
Submissions will be judged on the quality of their architectural-urbanistic solution, quality of functional-operational solution design, and technological solutions taking into account investment and operating costs.
Judges will include Radim Laibl, deputy mayor of Žatec; Gabriela Kaprálová of Prague-based Studio ASGK; the civil engineer B?etislav Sedlá?ek; and Ji?í Karas, chair of Czechia’s Sports Commission.
The overall winner will receive a £51,000 (CZK 1.5 million) top prize while a second prize of £24,000 (CZK 700,000), third prize of £15,000 (CZK 450,000), and fourth prize of £8,500 (CZK 250,000) will also be awarded. The competition languages are Czech and English.
Q&A with Jakub Našinec
The president of the jury discusses his ambitions for the competition
Why are you holding an international competition for an new public sports hall in Žatec?
Žatec is one of the oldest towns in Central Europe. Its history has been for 800 years connected with the cultivation and processing of hops. Currently Žatec’s local technical monuments are a candidate for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. However, it urgently needs to develop its contemporary image and preferably on an international level. It must be attractive to current residents and attract as many new residents as possible. The phenomenon of healthy and active leisure plays an important role in this. That is why the town leadership has agreed that the sports hall will probably be the largest construction investment in the modern history of Žatec.
The capacity of sports facilities in the city is limited and fragmented. The new sports hall must be able to host competitive matches at international level. It must also allow for the participation of spectators as well as hosting training and sports camps with accommodation for additional teams. Full use during school hours and in the evenings by both the public and local sports clubs is envisaged.
What is your vision for future Žatec sports hall, and what would you like to see in submissions to the competition?
International competitions can offer a different interpretation of a town’s history, and an original understanding of local and regional context. Our competition will also allow the Czech professional public to compare the work of local and foreign architects.
The location allows a very free approach. It is not in direct contact with the historic core of the city. We require a technically perfect, functional and aesthetic building, friendly to users, its surroundings and the environment. It must also allow economical operation and easy maintenance.
Competitors should also keep in mind the cultural dimension of the sport and consider the ancient ideal of Kalokagathia –prioritising harmony and balance of physical and mental beauty – which has a significant tradition in the Czech Republic in the Sokol movement. Sokol gymnasiums, Sokol halls, became an important typological type of Czech architecture in the first third of the 20th century, combining sporting, cultural and representative functions.
What role do you see this competition playing in the development of new local, international and underrepresented architectural and design talents, and helping to address the underrepresentation and engagement of many communities in our interpretation of the built environment?
CCEA MOBA has been actively supporting and developing the culture of architectural competitions in the Czech Republic for a long time. The members of the jury are two young architects Jan Sko?ek and Jakub Vašek, who themselves have succeeded in competitions in the past. The anonymous public competition is a great chance for promising teams. We are not interested in the size of the office or its name, but in the top quality of the competition design. The terms of the competition guarantee the authors of the awarded designs participation in the following negotiations which will take place around the refinement of the design and development of the building project.
Are there any recent similar competitions or projects, either locally or internationally, which have delivered impressive results?
Sports buildings are booming in the Czech Republic and their construction has strong government and public support. It is no coincidence that the GRAND PRIX – National Award for Architecture was awarded to two sports buildings in 2018 and 2020 – the sports hall in Dolní B?ežany, co-authored by jury member architect Jakub Našinec, and the city hall in Mod?ice. We are pleased that another member of the jury is Ján Studený, who with his team won the architectural competition for the construction of the sports hall in Nová Paka in 2020.
How do you see projects in Czech Republic evolving in the future and what competitions will you hold next?
Public investors in the Czech Republic are increasingly confident and bold. City planning commissions (for example IPR Prague) employ young and competent professionals with experience in the best architectural studios abroad. In recent years, a number of international competitions have been organised in the Czech Republic, in which foreign architects have participated and succeeded. Steven Holl designed the concert hall in Ostrava, Benthem Crouwel Architects designed the main railway station in Brno, Chaix & Morel et associés designed the cultural house in ?eské Bud?jovice. A major international competition for the design of the Vltava Philharmonic Hall in Prague is now underway, with the world’s most prominent architects taking part.
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