Populous Designs the Gaming House of the Future
Populous has revealed conceptual designs for the Gaming House of the Future, a made-to-measure training centre that will take the performance of professional esports athletes to the next level. The design is presented at WIRED Live on Thursday 1 November at the Tate Modern, London.
Populous has devised the training centre in response to a growing demand within the booming esports industry for purpose-built venues, which has seen the emergence of the world’s first large-scale esports arenas in China and the USA. This includes multi-million pound plans for the Populous-designed Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas, which is set to become the largest and most flexible esports stadium in the country. Such is the growth of esports that forecasters estimate its global revenues, which have doubled over the last two years to £565 million, will have surpassed £1 billion by 2020 and its global audience reached almost 600 million.
In this context, it is not surprising that more emphasis is being placed on supporting the stars of the show, the esports athletes, an area that is currently underdeveloped in comparison to mainstream sports.
At this design’s heart is a scalable philosophy around the need to support these elite athletes through separate spaces for wellness, performance, and living. Drawing on over 35 years of experience creating elite-level sports venues and high performance training facilities, Populous has conceived the Gaming House of the Future as a cutting edge design, which creates a space to support team players through their unique training requirements, at the same standard as seen by football, the NFL or any other top-level professional sport.
The futuristic training complex is embedded in the urban fabric, with the two tower design incorporating two pre-existing buildings as part of the wider development. One, a former cinema, has been reconfigured to house a high-tech events space together with an interactive exhibition and retail experience; the other is the team’s business headquarters.
Primarily, the facility has been designed to encourage a healthy work-life balance for the next generation of gamers-turned-esports athletes, who will be entering a profession where most are retired by their mid-20s, often as a result of burnout or fatigue.
To achieve this, Populous has created a clear physical divide between the training facilities in one tower, and areas dedicated to downtime and relaxation in the other. The South Tower contains sleeping quarters, a lounge, gym and physiotherapy room; the North Tower houses training and data analysis facilities including The Cube, where each athlete has a dedicated ‘battle station’, configured to meet their specific requirements. A swimming pool and rooftop gardens provide further spaces for athletes to unwind in.
“The esports industry is booming but its stars, the elite gamers, are not benefitting from the range and quality of training facilities their counterparts in mainstream sports have come to take for granted. Facilities like the Gaming House of the Future will help to focus minds on the physical and mental wellbeing of esports athletes and provide environments that support the continued growth of professional gaming.”Christopher Lee / Managing Director EMEA, Populous
Unlike in traditional sports, esports training does not require the athletes to go outside. Instead, they hone their skills in dimly lit training rooms, often with little or no natural light. To counteract the fatiguing effect this can have, both physically and mentally, the living spaces in the Gaming House of the Future are open and flooded with daylight, and there are two garden areas where players can go to enjoy some fresh air.
Reflecting increasing understanding of the importance of health, wellbeing and nutrition to extending the professional life of esports athletes, the Gaming House of the Future also has dedicated Refuelling and Healing Stations. Fast food and takeaways will not be on the menu in the training centre, where athletes will follow a strict, professionally-prepared nutrition programme and be cared for by a team of specialist doctors, physiotherapists and sports psychologists familiar with the strains, stresses and physical demands of elite level gaming.However, whilst Populous’ design of the training complex is predicated on helping the esports athletes to focus on practicing and improving their skills, it has not sought to isolate the athletes from their neighbours, but instead provide different platforms for esports enthusiasts, amateur gamers, the local community and tourists to interact with the gaming house and its inhabitants.
At street level the landscaped public realm comprises a skate park and climbing wall which creates a year-round visitor destination designed to draw people to the area even on non-event days, ensuring that the development serves a wider community beyond just that of esports.
Inside, a large amphitheatre in the foot of the building will host esports events for fans, with big screens offering a real-time view of competition play. The players will be housed in ‘The Egg’, a room suspended from trusses in a hollowed-out theatre building adjacent to the main structure.
Another area, ‘The Cave’, will be accessible from the street, enabling fans to gather and watch esports content streamed on an expansive LED surface, which envelops this atmospheric hippodrome.
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