High-performance design

WORDS Georgia Chennells PHOTOS Angela Shaw

A world-class high-performance training facility, featuring a Scandi-inspired modernist design scheme by Richard Stretton of Koop Design, is hidden in the heart of Durban.

It’s quite fitting that a gym that’s like no other in Africa is situated in the heart of Durban’s sporting district at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Yet, despite its significance, the Prime Human Performance Institute goes almost unnoticed in its location beneath the cableway of the stadium. 

This is a world-class high-performance training facility supporting South African and international athletes, both professional and non-professional, by providing access to the latest specialist equipment (and corresponding professionals) in a set-up that includes laboratories, ultrasound facilities and Africa’s first high-altitude training room.

The Scandi-inspired design of the interior also reflects something a lot more special than you will encounter at your average gym franchise. Timber finsishes, soft reflected light, clean shapes and gently offset angles give the place a warmth and Zen-like calm. 

“Karate dojos and Alvar Aalto,” jokes Richard Stretton of Koop Design, who developed the interior. “The material, structural and spatial resolution of the environment reinforce the institute’s brand and identity. There’s no secondary layering of services, function or design – you build only once,” says Richard.

It’s an expressively structured interior, with a limited palette of materials. A central double-volume area houses the gym and other movement-orientated facilities,  while treatment rooms, labs and other accompanying cellular spaces overlook the activity areas. In concept, it’s really a stadium. 

Materials such as recycled rubber, vinyl, powder-coated steel and ash certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) were selected for their performance, sustainable credentials and aesthetic appeal, while the concrete shell was left unadorned. Another feature is the simple navigation: different flooring, strip lights and colour-coded peripheral rooms orientate users, with barely any signage.

Most impressive is that, for a world-class facility, the institute is not at all intimidating. It’s a friendly, open and inviting place achieved with a light touch and human understanding.

Koop Design 031 201 2415, www.koopdesign.co.za

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