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1. Introduction Based on their knowledge and experience, architects create structures for human community and action. They are constantly under pressure to produce something new that will also last a long time. Creating new architecture for sports and exercise is an important project. Architecture for sports has met with much criticism in recent years. For instance, the classic rectangular halls of traditional sports centres are not always suited for children, women, dance or martial arts. Sports centres are often designed without consideration of a wide range of human needs. Sport is much more than physical training. It is also an expression of a need for community and social interaction. Sport is a way of assessing one’s level of physical performance, it is a tool for maintaining or building up health and for learning about our bodies. Modern work and life structures create new expectations for the organisation of people’s need for movement. Physical exercise must be adapted to daily life as freely and flexibly as possible. This requires new forms and new facilities. Critics of sports architecture have tended to point out that sunlight is often blocked out, that the environments are standardised into monofunctionalism, and that there is a lack of cultural distinctiveness. According to such critics, what is needed is many possible uses, a more imaginative design, fluid transitions between outside and inside spaces, and links to the surroundings and the urban architecture. A number of places have experimented with new architecture for sports (Eichberg & Bøje 1994). The Gymnastics and Sports Folk High School in Viborg designed the ‘Fire Hall’, a hall with a view of the lake inspired by the four elements and used for gymnastics, music, theatre and dance. ‘The Globe’ in Jutland’s Sports Folk High School is a 20-metre-tall circular building that is used as a conference and lecture hall, as well as for gymnastics and theatre. The ‘Frederik IV Hall’ in Copenhagen is an attempt to work with light and with various materials to create a multifunctional and aesthetic space for movement. Sports playgrounds experiment with a variety of new offers, and the classic ‘trim path’ has been replaced by more challenging and stimulating recreational models such as adventure racing and climbing walls. But do these architectural renewals really meet the needs of their users? Or do users have totally different needs and wishes than the ones that innovative sports architecture seek to meet? When architecture and psychology enter into dialogue, the aim is to enter into the user’s life world and expectations. Psychology can be an instrument in the building process, since it contributes knowledge of human sense perception, development and sociality. Architecture designed for human movement needs knowledge of small children’s sense of space to design playgrounds or schoolyards. It needs knowledge of social distance regulation and of the relationship between


intimacy and distance in connection with sports activities. It also needs information about human perception, and analyses of the differences between female and male environments. Focusing on sports, i.e. on humans in movement, this essay will attempt to answer the following questions: •

How does the individual human being perceive and sense his or her surroundings?

How important is the environment in the interaction between human beings?

Are there examples of applied architectural psychology?

Three possible relationships This essay is based on three possibilities of exploring the relationship between human beings and their environments:

1. Architecture affects action. Human beings perceive and adapt. Here, architecture is central. Architecture influences people, who experience it and adapt to it. This idea lies behind much architectural research. The idea is to build innovative sports architecture that critically distances itself from uniform architecture (‘container architecture’) and thus promotes new patterns and possibilities of movement. Architecture becomes a spur to innovation.

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But in this model, architecture can easily become a tool for control. The philosopher Foucault has demonstrated this with an analysis of prison buildings in the 19th century. The Panopticon – a


building in which everyone can be monitored from a central tower – was for him a metaphor for oppression. Through universal visibility and potential surveillance, architecture becomes a means of power, an architecture of power. Another example is monumental Nazi architecture as an instrument for influencing the masses. The architect Alfred Speer called it das Wort aus Stein, ‘the word in stone’. Architectural monumentalism directly influenced the individual and was intended as a means of collective depersonalisation. For example, a sense of collective identity should be enacted through a nighttime event in a floodlit stadium.

2. Architecture is adapted to human needs. Human actions determine the architecture. Another approach is to take one’s startin