Artificial grass is a popular choice for sports fields: it allows them to be used more often and regardless of the weather conditions. These mats are currently installed for single sport usage, because each sport has their own technical requirements. UT students have now come up with solutions for allowing a single field to be used by different sports and for different playing forms, thereby supporting sport associations.
Sport associations face the challenge to cope with future trends, such as an ageing population, in order to stay afloat. One way of doing that is by making more efficient use of their sporting fields by allowing multiple sports to be played on the same artificial grass field, for example soccer and korfball or rugby. This spreads the use and hence the need for maintenance over the entire surface and allows a more efficient and permanent usage, which is also more sustainable.
But a soccer field is very different from a rugby field. How do you tackle this, without hindering the sports experience?
To create such a multi-purpose field, three students from DesignLab have explored the concept of flexible lining, so that only the necessary lines for the sport that is being played can be shown on the field.
In a six-week innovation sprint, they have developed concepts ranging from low-tech to high-tech:
· As the low-tech concept, they proposed movable artificial grass lines that show only the desired lines needed for the particular activity. This works through coloured grass strips integrated into the field. All other lines are hidden by green grass lines. In this low-budget concept, transforming the field to suit another sports activity is rather time consuming, as it has to be done manually.
· As the medium-tech concept, the students proposed a medium-priced LED grid to be integrated into the field. A LED grid allows a swift activity change, but might hinder the playing experience.
- Another medium-tech concept is e-paper modules. These equally allow for a quick transformation of the field and are medium-priced.
· The high-tech concept presented by the students is a laser-based installation that projects the field limits and lines desired for the particular sport. This allows real-time transformation and is relatively easy to install. At the other hand, wearing eye protection is recommended, which might negatively affect the playing experience.
According to the Dutch Football Association KNVB, the concepts are relevant enough to be further developed. This might also help them in their wish to offer multiple football variants on a single field. More generally speaking, multifunctionally can open up opportunities for lively sport associations and resilient sport communities, says KNVB.
The findings will feed into the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project Kunststoffen en Sensoren in which DesignLab is participating. Together with project partner Polymer Science Park we will explore if the ideas of the students can be transformed into real-life solutions.
Are you interested in learning more about these results? Please contact Maya van den Berg, programme manager at DesignLab.
Credits picture: KNVB