What comes to your mind when you think of spectator seating for a small outdoor court like basketball, tennis or five-a-side soccer? Clunky, rectilinear, collapsible contraptions? or gargantuan brutalist concrete steps? I bet you never imagine a fluid form that doubles as the roof of a building.
Well, that was the concept behind MVRDV’s “Couch”. The Rotterdam-based architects (the guys that brought us the Markthal) developed this idea for a tennis club building in IJburg, a new district to the east of Amsterdam. The club house is free of charge and accessible to the public, creating a central meeting place for the community, where they can get coffee, healthy snacks, socialise or just kick back, sort of like a “living room” for the IJburg community, hence the name Couch (at least I think so).
As MVRDV describe it,
The club house is a long open volume with services on either side such as dressing rooms, a kitchen, storage and toilets. The main space is multifunctional, so it can be used for the club’s many events. The roof dips down towards the south side and is raised towards the north up to a height of seven metres, creating an informal tribune for the club. The wide glass front to the north side allows extensive natural lighting and provides a view out over the waters of the IJ-lake. Inside the club house, the concrete construction is clad with FSC-certified wood, with the outside fully sealed with an EPDM polymer hotspray in the same colour and texture as the clay tennis courts. The reduced glass surface to the south helps to cool the building. The thermal mass characteristics of the materialisation in concrete and wood are used to reach a high degree of energy efficiency. The building will be heated with district heating made efficient by a heat exchange system. In summer there will be natural ventilation, adding to the ambitious sustainability profile of the structure.