Going to the gym to burn off calories would be a lot more fun if the whole complex was wrapped in plants like the SportPlaza Mercator in Amsterdam. Designed by VenhoevenCS Architects, this community center-cum-spa marks the entrance to a park in the diverse De Baarsjes neighborhood. The design team wanted the center to blend into its green surroundings, which is why they opted to cover the whole thing in lush vertical gardens.
Located at the start of a historic 19th century city populated by people from 129 different countries, the municipality commissioned the SportPlaza Mercator in order to boost the community. VenhoevenCS responded with a fortress-like building completely wrapped in low maintenance plants and topped with a green roof that also has a cave-like ambience inside.
Skylights ensure that natural light reaches all corners of the center, which offers a fitness center, an indoor and outdoor pool, a fast food restaurant and cafe, an events hall and a place for parents to leave their children while they get fit. Tinted windows overlooking the pools provide a sense of privacy while low windows frame the street view. Completely camouflaged from afar, this extraordinary complex completed in 2006 was recently nominated for a new Green Building Award.
Images by Luuk Kramer