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Erasmus+: NextGenSportsFacilities

In 2023 the project NextGen4SportsFacilities was approved by the EU and funded by heir Erasmus+ programme. This project works together with partners from three different countries to develop and validate sustainable sports facilities. From the Netherlands, the NOC*NSF (Netherlands Olympic Committee), Breda University and Orange Sports Forum are involved in the project. The Portuguese partners within the project are Institutio Politecnico de Beja and QXotc and from Turkey the Istanbul Teknik Universitesi. The project will start in October 2023 and will run for two years.

In the EU, we recognize the significance of sport particularly for its role in forging identity and bringing people together. Governments are increasingly utilizing sport to influence city development and more comprehensively combine economic, social, and environmental concerns. In both urban and rural areas, municipal authorities are often committed to creating sports infrastructure for their citizens to realize greater goals for inclusivity and public service provision.

In Europe, a very diverse sports and exercise landscape exists. Throughout Europe, formal sports accommodations, sports centres, and leisure areas are created by governments or private parties. And, much of the general public space is being used for sports. This enables two in five Europeans (40%) to exercise or play sport at least once a week.

The diverse cultural and physical landscape of Europe means that each region has its manner of planning and building sports centres. Local preferences for certain types of sports, how sports are organized, the spatial planning, and construction traditions are often influencing how the sports and recreational infrastructure has taken shape.

According to the Eurobarometer 472 Sport and physical activity (2018), most of the respondents (74%) agreed that in their local area there are many opportunities to be physically active. A similar proportion of them (73%) think that their local sports clubs and other providers offer such opportunities. There are mixed views as to whether local authorities do enough to provide their citizens with opportunities to be physically active: 39% of respondents think that they do not do enough, while 49% think they do.


With NextGen4SportsFacilities, the aim is to capitalize on the creativity and cooperation of universities and students that know how “design thinking” can help overcome the challenges. The plan is to create an overview of exciting new ideas, concepts, and designs from the next generation for future sports centres in Europe. The ideas, concepts, and new designs will be shared with an international panel of (public and private) developers and owners of sports infrastructure. The goal is to realize some of these new designs together with this panel of sports infrastructure developers and owners—creating sports centres which match the needs of their specific community, but also embody the inclusivity and sustainability that are essential in every context.

There are six participants from three different countries: Turkey, the Netherlands, and Portugal. This project will include research, analysis, program experimentation, refinement, design, implementation of design techniques, and outreach.

The outreach events will try to maximize the impact across partner countries and potentially beyond. With the involvement of three universities, three urban sports venues, an online platform expert, and the NOC*NSF from the Netherlands as a sports stakeholder, a major outreach can be expected in the involved countries and beyond.

The project will contribute to the priorities in the field of sport via encouraging the participation in sport and physical activity. Through designing more accessible sport facilities, more people from all demographics will be able to participate in physical activity. This project aims to take away barriers often imposed by the sport infrastructure.

Also, the project will contribute to promoting integrity and values in sport. Multi-functional and multipurpose sport facilities encourage the coming together of different target groups with different demographic and social cultural backgrounds. This strengthens social inclusion and sportsmanship. Design will be used to foster interactions and multiuse opportunities.