The Bakala Academy is the result of a public-private partnership between the University of Leuven and a top-level bicycle team aiming to create a representative centre that will provide services on the level of excellence in sports and performance for cyclists and athletes of all disciplines. The programme includes a testing laboratory where physical performances can be assessed and improved, an information desk, meeting rooms and an “altitude centre” similar to high mountain accommodation, where sportsmen and -women can reside for longer periods in low-oxygen conditions.
At the level of the master plan and the site, the building adheres to the urban model of the sports campus with buildings as solitary elements in a green park. A small footprint and a relationship with the green surroundings were therefore important parameters.
The concept of the building itself is based on the “wheel”, an affirmative shape that not only refers to cycling but also embodies concepts of dynamism, movement and “clockwork-precision”. The building functions as an icon with a strong identity, a white circle in the green as a symbol of perfection and excellence. It combines the autonomy of its own centrality with an omnidirectional openness to the green landscape of the university campus. The plan is the result of two eccentric circles. The space created between the two is continuous, has a variable depth and is in permanent relationship to the green central courtyard and the surrounding area.
client: KU Leuven Technical Department, Willem de Croylaan 56, 3001 Heverlee, BE for ZB Sports Development, Kouterstraat 14, 8560 Wevelgem, BE
team: H. Bosteels, M. Czvek, M. Lefeber, M. Pocuch, T. Rigby, B. Saileanu, M. Steel Lebre, M. Tierens
structural eng.: NEY & Partners
technical eng.: RCR studiebureau
surface: 940 m² gross
timing: competition 2011 | completion 2013