“The metal and fabric roof solution has very interesting light, thermal and acoustic properties.”
The new Saint-Denis sports centre on Réunion island is the first sporting facility with a completely wooden structure and a metal and fabric roof. The product designed by SMC2 was selected for the construction. We take a look back at the project with Samuel Gautier, manager of Atelier [ÉPICéA] architecture agency.
Can you describe the sports centre to us?
It is part of an urban landscape that can be easily seen from Saint Denis’ Boulevard Sud, situated between a ravine and a rainwater canal. You could say it is on a “peninsular” with strict geographical constraints associated with 100-year flooding. For example, people get to the centre over a bridge. The main building with its “opaque” roof (Ondulit sheet metal and plant complex) has the changing rooms, club house and patio. The second building with the metal and fabric façades and roof has the sports facilities with a multi-sports hall for handball, basketball, volleyball and also badminton. But the hall is mostly used for handball with local club matches held there.
Why did you choose a fabric roof?
The primary objective was to recommend a naturally ventilated and lit sports hall using a bioclimatic design. On Réunion island, this is the first sports facility with a completely wooden structure, cross-ventilation and roofing system with a double-curved fabric envelope. This roof is very interesting because it generates the ideal light for indoor games (diffused). When sports halls and gyms use artificial lights, players are distracted when the ball is in the air. We designed two large façades in micro-perforated fabric with openwork walls. The overall impression is that you are playing outside, as if under a canopy. This was an important element for us. And, this solution has very interesting thermal and acoustic properties. This sports centre is a facility that provides structure to the town (Anru programme) and the roof means the building will be like a lantern once the sun has set.
How is it designed in light of Réunion’s climate constraints (high winds, cyclones, etc.)?
These elements were carefully considered. We worked on this problematic for the façade and the roof. SMC2 has a rare patented system which has extended warranties for French overseas territories affected by these climate constraints. Furthermore, the company provided all the necessary elements required by the authorisation office for the different standards. SMC2 also reassured the contracting authority that even if the fabric is pierced by debris during a fierce storm, the procedure for repair is very easy and costs little.
Contracting authority: Saint Denis Town Hall, Réunion Island
Architects: Atelier [EPICéA] / APA / 2APMR
Structural Design Office: A3 Structures
Fluid Design Office: INSET