F51 Urban Sports Park
Originally planned to become a car park, this rural sports park in Folkestone is the first of its kind in terms of design, construction and operation.
Delivering such a huge feat of engineering mastery took some big brains and extraordinarily different thinking, hence bringing on board the award-winning architects of Hollaway Studios. From the building’s shape and size, through to every design detail and the innovative construction methodology required to bring the vision to life, this building is truly the first of its kind. The building grows up and out of the site, increasing in size on every angle as it rises, maximising space whilst creating an unmistakable and unique landmark to the area.
From the original idea taking shape back in 2015 by the developer, Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, the indoor multi-story skateboarding park has become one of the most respected community builds in Kent, providing young people with a safe place to socialise and offer more opportunities to engage in sport and recreational activities.
The whole construction needed to be meticulously planned around the first floor's suspended concrete skate bowls for it to be the world's first building to have such an innovative engineering creation. The upper skating levels of the second and third floors were formed from sustainable plywood, combining the need for durability and performance with the flexibility to modify and upgrade as skateboarding trends evolve and adding over 1500sqm of skateable space.
The tallest climbing wall in the south east links all three floors, reaching a heigh of 15m - and is only one of three that is appropriate to use at Olympic level speedwall training. Like skateboarding, climbing grew in popularity proceeding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, so the facility fits in well with the interest of young people in mind. A competition sized boxing ring and training facilities are located on the ground floor along with a cafe which is open for public use. The design team clearly worked very hard to ensure the facilities were modern and accessible to everyone, especially in urban areas such as Folkestone.
Working on a restrictively small site, the main contractors, Jenner Group, had a big job on their hands, with busy through routes on either side of the building and the safety of both the workers and the public to consider.
F51 was nominated for 'Project of the Year' at the Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards 2022.