Architecture and Society

Sports and Leisure

Sports & Leisure - Frei Otto
Frei Otto, Roof for the Multihalle in Manheim – installing the grid (1974-1975)


The UIA S&L WP comprises specialist sports architects from every continent and actively promotes the universal development of sports and leisure facilities.


S&L WP strives to achieve this by making available (and positively targeting) the collective and individual expertise of our members towards:

  • Informing developing countries of the potential socio-economic benefits of community and competitive sports facilities for all ages and abilities.
  • Advocating the need for National and local overall policies; forward-planning programmes, good brief-making, and the importance of attractive, functional and sustainable buildings.
  • Liaising and establishing strong links with international and national governing bodies for sports and other international organisations to exchange knowledge and to positively influence their guidance, brief-making


S&L WP seeks a role in their decision-making processes – for example, providing specialist advisers and participating in juries for design competitions.   Key organisations include the IOC (International Olympic Committee), IPC (the International Paralympic Committee), IAAF, FIFA, FINA, UCI, IAKS and other.



The expertise of WP members is enhanced by:

  • research visits to Olympic/Paralympics complexes - ideally before, during and after the games;
  • visiting pioneering complexes in different countries which have initiated and developed new approaches to community and elite sports architecture;
  • attending and contributing to didactic seminars organised by our WPG and to conferences in association with other organisations.


Amongst our members are those with specialist experience and skills in sports and leisure in the following areas:

  • research and education
  • brief-writing - including an overlay of operational management considerations, costs in use and legacy plans
  • planning and design of community sports and leisure indoor and outdoor complexes
  • planning and design of major events complexes - including stadia, indoor arena for specialist and general purposes (including overlay/temporary facilities)sustainability of sports facilities during the course of their lifetimes (in both environmental and economic terms)– with particular regard to the legacies of major events complexes.


Gar Holohan - Ireland

Gar is Executive Chair of the Aura Holohan Leisure Group who provides design and facility management services for sports, leisure and entertainment facilities.


Gar developed his passion for sports and leisure architecture when travelling the world with the Irish Squash Team, and has played a major role in raising standards of sports and leisure planning and design in Ireland and internationally.


He has been a consultant to the Irish Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport for over 20 years, and led consultant teams for the planning and design of the €200m Irish National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, and the preparation of the Irish National Sports Facility Strategy.