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White walls, oak floors, rusty metal lockers. More often than not, most high school athletes are dealing with pretty standard facilities, the type of gyms that inspire kids to get into a college with a hefty endowment and forget the last four years ever happened. But for the lucky students of a school in Austria, dropping style standards is now totally out of the question.
Designed by Hofrichter-Ritter Architects, the “Blue Box” sporting complex is a monochromatic masterpiece. Working within a singular tonality, the building was intended to be as unobtrusive as possible, blending in seamlessly with the sky above. Doubling their efforts to keep things lo-pro, they dug 4 meters—about 12 feet for you Americans out there—beneath the surface to diminish its size when seen from the approach. While they’ve technically done everything in their architect power to not distract from the surroundings, it’s hard to not focus on the clean lines, progressive color selection, and integration of various sports-inspired design elements. The "Blue Box" does not fly under the radar by any means, at least in terms of design.
Keeping things kosher with the natural surroundings wasn’t the only priority; Hofrichter-Ritter made this thing so that it maintained ridiculously fluid continuity with itself. Lines from a soccer field (covered in blue synthetic turf, naturally) continue on an adjacent wall, the façade uses the same blue coating that’s used on the floor inside, a walkway takes on the shape of a running track. You never forget where you are… and you might never want to leave. Given this is high school, that's no small task.
Photos courtesy of Hofrichter-Ritter.