Behind the scenes: streetfootballworld Festival 16

July 18, 2016

streetfootballworld Lyon Festival 16

Soaad Islam is an Associate Architect in Populous’ London office, responsible for event and overlay design. Here she tells us how she has brought her experience working on events like the European Games in Baku and London 2012 to bear on streetfootballworld Festival 16 in Lyon.

Festival 16 might not be the same size as a FIFA World Cup, but for the participants travelling from all over the world to take part it needs to feel just as special. We’ve taken the same design processes we would apply to something like an Olympic Games or a World Cup and transferred that thinking onto a smaller scale. There are actually a lot of similarities between designing for an event of this size and designing for a single competition venue at the Olympics, which has allowed us to follow the same simple steps to deliver what will be a fantastic home for the festival:

Keeping the spirit alive

streetfootballworld events have a distinct character, which the organisers have worked hard to create. Throughout the design process, the most important consideration for us was that this spirit would determine how every aspect of the venue worked. Safety, efficiency, and functionality are all fundamental components in putting an event like this together, but it’s the spirit of streetfootballworld that makes it unique.

Close collaboration

A myriad of fantastic organisations have put their time and expertise into ensuring Festival 16 is the best streetfootballworld event yet. We were keen to get to know everybody involved, visiting factories to see how the components we designed were being manufactured, and meeting with the people that will be operating the event when it gets underway. Working as one big team makes it easier to identify any problems that might arise, and to establish who the best person to solve them might be.

Taking advantage of the site

One of our specialities is in understanding a site and how we can make the most of the facilities already in place, as well as which additional structures we will need to design and construct to support the event. This can have spectacular results, like the temporary arena we placed on Horse Guards Parade to host the beach volleyball during London 2012. For Festival 16 to be a success, it was crucial that we used the Sport dans la Ville site to its full potential. One of the first things we noticed was that the site had two obvious entry points, which meant we could make a clear division between athletes and spectators.

Working behind the scenes

One important aspect of operational design is knowing when to separate the public facing areas from the back of house facilities. Everything should be able to run smoothly behind the scenes, while remaining hidden from spectators and participants. For example, security facilities and WCs are crucial to the staging of the event, but they have been designed to have the smallest visual impact possible.

streetfootballworld Festival 16 Lyon

Making sure everything is where it needs to be

An international event like the Olympics has a lot of different users that need to be accommodated – from spectators and participants, to medical staff, journalists, and match officials. Knowing where to put these different people and which other users to put them next to helps to improve efficiency. Festival 16 is no different, and we have made sure that volunteers, youth leaders and participants have all been appropriately located. As much as possible, we have placed all the facilities used by participants on a linear route from their point of entry, so the site is easily navigable, with areas of shared facilities like catering and storage located so that they can service multiple groups.

Managing movement

People need to be able to find their way around the site easily. We don’t want them to be confused, and we don’t want them to wander into areas where they shouldn’t be. The overlapping circulation routes of all the different users need to be considered so that each person is directed to the area specifically designated for them. Safety is also a concern, particularly if there are vehicles accessing the site.


Accreditation determines the access to varying levels of restricted areas for all user groups within the venue. It’s another way of making sure everybody is where they need to be, but it also helps with health and safety precautions, and security.

Media facilities

The work of streetfootballworld will continue long after the event in Lyon has finished. To help promote their work, it’s essential that the festival is well documented and reported around the world. Journalists and media representatives across all formats of coverage have been given the appropriate facilities so that those outside of Lyon can also experience the ethos and the spirit of Festival 16.

It’s always satisfying to see our designs brought to life, but streetfootballworld Festival 16 has been a particularly worthwhile project to undertake. Everybody on the team is looking forward to welcoming the event to Lyon when it kicks off in just a few days’ time.

This article first appeared on streetfootballworld.


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