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IAKS Congress to chart path to building resilient communities through sports facilities

IAKS Congress to chart path to building resilient communities through sports facilities
September 20, 2023

With more than 40 speakers and more to be confirmed, nine streams, four days of networking, drink receptions and 400 delegates, the upcoming 28th IAKS Congress is set to once again be the must-attend conference for those involved in the aquatic, recreation and sports facility infrastructure sector.

Being held at Koelnmesse in the German city of Cologne from 24th to 27th October, the 28th Congress of the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) provides an unparalleled program of presentations and panels on the most important topics of the day related to design, construction and operation of aquatic, recreation and sports facilities.

This year’s highlights include ‘Building resilient communities through sports and leisure facilities’ on four days, international experts sharing insights on ‘Global challenges and global initiatives’, ‘Environmental and climate challenges’, ‘Well-being, active living, inclusivity, and the public realm’ and ‘Changing the Narrative: The Future of the Sports Surfaces Sector’.

Benefits from attending IAKS
The Congress, held alongside the FSB trade fair, will give delegates the opportunity to learn from passionate practitioners from indoor, outdoor and aquatic facilities who will discuss current developments and trends in the industry.

Examples include best-practice facilities from Denmark, Germany, Hungary and the UK which are leading in sustainability, low carbon design and low energy operations.

It will also present successful programs on how to activate communities, how to face social inequality related to participation in sports and physical activity, and how to minimise the carbon footprint of aquatic, recreation and sport buildings.

Australia exhibits
The activity path to Brisbane 2032 and beyond will be the theme of the IAKS booth (#B001) on the FSB trade show floor.

IAKS Awards
Together with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), IAKS will also present the industry’s coveted international architecture prizes for 2023 at a ceremony on Tuesday 24th October.

IAKS Congress Program - Global challenges and global initiatives
Tuesday 24th October, 13:00 to 14:30
The 2023 IAKS Congress brings together challenges, trends, impact, forward-thinking, and international expertise.

Which are the current developments and trends in the industry? How do megatrends change our society and economy? What do we need to know when making decisions for tomorrow?

Which trends will create an impact on us if we like it or not?

Which efforts are made to tackle the major public health issue that is sedentary lifestyles, but also to promote a gender-equal use of schoolyard spaces, attractivity of town centres, and quality of life in workplaces, after a lockdown period that has profoundly changed people’s relation to work?

Inclusive design is one of the areas that demonstrates how a community-based approach can create benefit for the whole society.

The activity path to Brisbane 2032 and beyond
Tuesday 24th October, 15:00 to 16:30

Australia is one of the most promising markets for the sports and leisure facility industry. Hosting not only the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also a number of World Championships and World Cups in different sports, this session will introduce the size and complexity of the Australian market, the sectors that it is segmented into, with the challenges around governance, value, and impact on society.

As a special focus, we will look at the approximate 1,300 public aquatic facilities across Australia that are available for public swimming, most of them funded and built by local governments. As many of them are approaching the end of their life, additional research into the state of aquatic facilities and the likely timeframes for their upgrade and replacement nationwide will be presented.

Today’s design decisions and future-oriented programming
Wednesday 25th October, 10:30 to 12:00

A building’s lifespan often exceeds 40 years and more. Especially public buildings need to envision future use. This session will dig deep into the ways that we can change and improve our communities by challenging preconceptions on what is best.

Sustainability, accessibility, inclusiveness, and togetherness need to be targeted at the local level, while not forgetting about the global climate goals. How does this all come together, and which contradictions may occur? Can new architectural approaches nudge sports activities to be more flexible and adaptive? Learn from best practices for big structures for major sporting events as well as for community facilities.

Reducing the carbon footprint
Wednesday 25th October, 13:30 to 15:00

Tackling the carbon footprint brings unique challenges to the sports and leisure industry, from high energy consumption to the difficulties in maintaining, re-purposing, and retrofitting existing facilities. Lifecycle carbon assessment studies on aquatics projects as well as energy data gathered from recent post-occupancy studies will show the importance of balancing carbon, cost, and culture over the life of a leisure building.

An important step for every building project is the integration of sustainability requirements into the tendering process. To assess and evaluate the sustainability performance of building products and materials, sustainability systems at product level can provide initial indications.

Socially relevant design: A commitment to the community
Thursday 26th October, 10:30 to 12:00

Planning a new city district offers huge opportunities, especially if active living is on top of the agenda. Why is an 'active city' of value from a developer’s perspective?

Sports buildings are part of public social provision. First and foremost, they should cater for the local community. Which strategies can practitioners apply to guide and evaluate design criteria that define their projects?

And how to consider less physically active groups such as girls with immigrant background? What affects and what motivates them, and what barriers do they experience?

Planning carbon reduced pools
Thursday 26th October, 12:00 to 14:00

Ravelin Sports Centre is the new BREEAM outstanding sports facility for the University of Portsmouth, UK. The architect and the operator will demonstrate how low carbon design and low energy operations can be achieved.

Speakers from science and research will then explain indicators and factors to better understand the most important steps for making pools more sustainable buildings on the way to circularity, as well as look at the influence of the most important building components.

The challenge of true inclusivity
Thursday 26th October, 13:30 to 15:00

The conversation about gender equity is not new, and yet the challenges persist and, in some ways, have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Parks and recreation organizations are taking this issue through programming, partnerships, and awareness campaigns. But what are the barriers within the physical environment? And what strategies can be used to overcome them?

The inclusive design outdoor project “Troldhedestien” will be presented as an example on how The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities has worked with involving vulnerable groups aiming to sink the barriers of participation in outdoor activities.

Making the design process more accessible to people and inviting more voices to the table shall shape better human connections and help answer the complex and interdependent problems that communities are facing.

Enhancing and activating the public domain
Thursday 26th October, 15:30 to 17:00

An active living strategy means multiple efforts at the local level: Putting physical activity at the heart of multisectoral strategies and policies; making it a driving force to impact health and well-being; focus on organised and self-organised sports activities; implementation, and continuous improvement of a system-based approach in the short, medium and long term; and understanding the city as a facilitator of a local dynamic of partnerships and networks, accessibility and inclusiveness.

This session will offer learnings from global active cities from around the world, tools to better understand the impact on the activity level and show best practices of small interventions that can make the difference.

Changing the narrative: The future of the sports surfaces sector
Friday 27th October, 10:30 to 12:30

Discussing the positive aspects of synthetic sports surfaces is the way for the future. Embracing the negative energy from a small number of interest groups can be changed into positive solutions that can make a difference to the next generation of users, in a safe and environmentally positive manner.

The panel will explore this new industry initiative between IAKS, ESTC (EMEA), STC (USA) and NSC (Asia Pacific), where the four organisations aim to develop a common approach to 'changing the narrative' so that the industry can continue good practice globally to counter some of the challenges.

Click here for registration and event details on the 28th IAKS Congresin the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.

Images from the 2019 IAKS Congress courtesy of IAKS.

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Co-founder and Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor and co-founder of Australasian Leisure Management.

Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

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