Heta has teamed up with Squash Plus, a new company pioneering the development of outdoor squash courts, to generate solutions to increase the visibility of the sport, strengthen communities and improve health and wellbeing. Under the banner of Squash Plus Heta, the collaboration has taken on the challenge of declining participation in the sport by creating an exciting concept for modular outdoor squash courts in urban public spaces.
- Category: Architecture
- Client: Squash Plus
- Location: Europe
- Collaborators: Gleeds (Cost Consultant)
- Status: Active
Increasing Visibility at a Grassroots Level
Squash Plus has a vision to raise the profile of the sport and make squash accessible to all. They have strong links to both the World Squash Federation and community squash so are well placed to pioneer the outdoor squash movement.
At a grassroots level in England, there has been a steady decline in participation, despite the country having the highest number of players in the world. Sport England’s survey revealed that the rate of decline in number of squash players per week is accelerating from 3-4% decline a year between 2005 and 2015 to 10% a year since 2015. This is due in part from a lack of visibility and media attention seen in other sports such as tennis or cycling, compounded with competition from indoor fitness activities such as the gym, yoga and spin, which have larger participation levels. Covid has also added to the negative press indoor squash has received. A solution to combat falling participation and widespread closure of indoor courts is to provide opportunities to move the game outdoors. Investing in outdoor squash courts and making them free to the public is the best way to give access to a much wider audience and increase the visibility of the game.
The future of squash is outdoors. For some time temporary glass courts have been put up in landmark venues such as in front of the Pyramids of Giza for elite tournaments. The time has now come for permanent courts to be built outside which will give the sport the exposure it really needs whilst delivering increased health benefits to players.
Adapted to Multiple Sites
Squash Plus Heta have developed a modular solution for outdoor squash courts which can be adapted to suit three different types of locations in towns and cities: underperforming urban spaces such as empty plots of land around transport infrastructure, brownfield spaces, or public parks and open spaces. The design of the courts is based on a modular ‘kit-of-parts’ approach using low-cost durable materials which can be configured to suit the surrounding context. Courts erected in leftover space can feature planting and local graffiti art to beautify the area. Courts erected in brownfield, disused or temporarily vacant sites can incorporate a living green wall to give bursts of colour and improve air quality. Courts erected in public parks or open spaces will be set into the ground to blend with the natural landscape.
The court is essentially formed by two distinct elements separated by the side wall ‘out of court’ line. The upper element is defined by an architectural mesh envelope which encloses the court and filters the natural day light. The lower element is a solid panelised wall system forming an enclosure which can be modified to suit its context and designed to be used throughout the year. The external court walls provide an opportunity to integrate elements that can have a secondary use, including natural planting, micro-allotments, green seating terraces or community artwork.
The courts are intended to be well-located for users, resistant to vandalism and valued by the local community.
For more information please visit: https://www.squashplus.uk/