Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: Watersley Sports & Talent Park, the Netherlands

An international design contest has been announced to remasterplan a 30ha youth sports complex in Sittard in the Netherlands (Deadline: 20 November)

Organised by Phidias Community Cooking, the ‘Stay-Grow-Play’ competition seeks radical proposals to upgrade a large sports campus occupying a former school site on the edge of the city of Sittard in South Limburg.

The call for concepts seeks to identify an overall masterplan for the 30ha rural estate which features more than 20 buildings. Proposals for the reuse of three specific sites within the campus will also be required.

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

The competition brief says: ‘Watersley Sports & Talentpark has developed rapidly in recent years. The country estate has developed into a hotspot for athletes and young talents. So far, the developments have been realised on the basis of supply and demand, but the time has come for more structure and vision. Many ideas have already been developed in terms of the programme for the buildings, so there is no need to focus on that.

‘The real question concerns the coherence of all of the properties in terms of appearance, branding, and functioning (connections and interaction). For this competition, we are looking for a vision for the entire estate and its relationship with the environment. Alongside a vision for the entire site, we would like to see an elaboration on one location, to show how the vision can become reality. For the competition, we have selected three locations for the elaboration.’

Phidias Community Cooking is a collaborative architectural platform focusing on innovative and sustainable design. It is supported by Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists, Robobank financial services and other local stakeholders.

Previous contests organised by Phidias include Set Foot in Sittard which sought ideas to regenerate vacant commercial premises at the centre of the historic Dutch city.

Sittard is a small city of around 40,000 inhabitants located close to the border with Germany. The contest focuses on a large former country estate which features a 1752 hunting lodge, Watersley House, at its centre.

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

The complex was used as a school for people with learning disabilities before being abandoned for a decade and then transformed into a sports campus providing residential accommodation for up to 300 local and international athletes.

The project aims to boost the quality and coherence of public spaces across the campus, deliver new branding across the estate, and create new residential accommodation, an Olympic sized swimming pool, classrooms, a restaurant and others sports facilities.

Along with an overall masterplan, participants are invited to submit more detailed designs for three areas within the complex including a large plaza known as ‘the flat’, the site of a former school, and a future sports centre dubbed ‘the powerhouse’.

The overall masterplan winner will receive €1,500 and an opportunity to work on the project. Cash prizes will also be awarded to the top three entrants for each of the three detailed design areas within the complex. The teams behind the top entries will also be invited to present their schemes to the client at Watersley on 17 and 18 December.

How to apply


20 November

Contact details

Phidias Community Cooking
Rijksweg Zuid 27
6131 AL Sittard
The Netherlands


View the competition website for more information

Q&A with Ron van den Heuvel

The organiser of Phidias Community Cooking discusses his ambitions of the contest

Ron van den Heuvel

Ron van den Heuvel

Ron van den Heuvel

Why are you holding an international contest to rethink the future of the Watersley sports and talent park?

Watersley Sports & Talent Park is an internationally oriented residential campus providing accommodation for up to 300 top-level sportspeople from the Netherlands and abroad. You can stay at the park as part of a team or as an individual, and you will be living at a very convenient distance to all the top sports facilities that this region offers. The Sportzone Limburg sports centre and an exciting city environment are easily accessible, as are a wide range of educational institutes. This makes Watersley Sports & Talent Park the ideal residence while you develop all your talents.

We organised the competition to gather innovative ideas for the Watersley Sports & Talentpark terrain. The terrain has been neglected for a long time but developed quickly the last couple of years because of the new owner and his conceptual ideas about sports and talent development. Rapid development like this is of course very nice, but it also brings different types of issues to the table, that need to be addressed and tackled. In terms of programme, we know what needs to happen to improve the terrain, but on a spatial level it can still go in various- if not all directions. The question we have asked ourselves is; how to come to the best spatial idea for this specific location?

We came to the conclusion that this spatial question is one not just for us to answer, but for the whole world! Because only then can we get the world’s best (innovative) idea for Watersley Sports & Talentpark.

In addition to this, it is a great opportunity for existing or new (up-and-coming) talents to profile and develop themselves. We are happy to offer them the opportunity, and in the process, get connected with Watersley Sports & Talentpark. First of all, there is a nice financial incentive that will be allocated to the person(s) with the best idea (€4,500 in total). Moreover, there is the chance to be involved in the development- and witness the progress of the project.

What is your vision for the new sports and learning complex?

Sports and learning, in combination with living, is in our eyes the new way of developing top talents. Imagine yourself being surrounded by talent, highly motivated talent; great stories about great achievements form a perfect inspiration for you to learn from and vice versa. We believe that by combining living, training and learning we can create a highly inspirational, motivated and active environment where talent is created and can blossom. A qualitative, sustainable and aesthetically high attractive area is important for a concept like this. Talents should be proud of where they live and train. This creates unity and a confidential environment, where everyone performs at their best and works towards the highest possible goals.

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

Watersley Sports & Talent Park, The Netherlands

In addition to this, branding of the area also plays an important role. The buildings in their current state are outdated and desperately in need of an upgrade. By linking this to the marketing of the area, we hope to create an environment where every young athlete would want to live. It should be famous, and not only because of all of the talents and young professionals that have developed here, but also because the actual space and environment is simply nice and pleasant. The ultimate goal is therefore to create an inspiring place where top athletes can live and develop themselves.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

This means we are not specifically looking for one type of architect or designer, everyone who has a good and innovative idea is welcome. Of course, this offers the opportunity for young upcoming design talents to put themselves on the map. After all, it is a big area (3 hectares) where a lot of events and activities take place. It is a place where many nationalities come together and build up a community. So it is not only a place for the locals. A close cooperation with local parties is therefore not a must at the moment.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

For the Watersley Sports & Talentpark terrain, many small subprojects will follow. How these will be approached is still open for discussion, which will mostly depend on the vision and spatial ideas that will come from the here discussed competition. But when someone leaves a good impression with his contribution, we will not exclude a collaboration process with the design team.

Another competition is starting pretty soon, but on a different location. This competition will be a competition with the same kind of issues about branding and aesthetics, but instead of a sport and talent campus the focus will be on leisure, education and tourism. So please keep yourself informed and check out our website.

Are there any other recent youth sports complex projects you have been impressed by?

It may be a temporary installation, but it is a good example. By transforming the public space into a publicly accessible outdoor sports club, the public space has been activated. Its playful character but still professional execution makes it informal and functional for all kind of target groups.

Although this design is not linked to housing, it does make a very good translation from a concept to a design. The most important element of this design is its connecting factor linking public space to sports and working.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.