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Reaching for the stars

Projects | January 1, 2016 | By:

 British trampoline ace Katherine ‘Kat’ Driscoll joined Apollo club team members in a bouncing session after the opening of Infinite Air, the U.K.’s largest trampoline and freerunning park in Durham. Photos: Rubb Buildings Ltd.
British trampoline ace Katherine ‘Kat’ Driscoll joined Apollo club team members in a bouncing session after the opening of Infinite Air, the U.K.’s largest trampoline and freerunning park in Durham. Photos: Rubb Buildings Ltd.

Durham’s Infinite Air extreme trampoline park gets a jump on the competition.

Rubb Buildings Ltd., Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, U.K., helped bring Infinite Air extreme trampoline park and freerunning facility to life at Durham’s Soccarena, New Ferens Park. The £600,000, 35,000 sq. ft. centre officially opened its doors in July 2015 and welcomed visitors to try out more than 80 interconnected trampolines, including dodgeball court areas, basketball lanes and the very popular BagJump, a huge airbag with tumble tracks, an angled trampoline and free-fall podiums tempting users to jump and try out some new tricks.

Kat Driscoll, 2012 Olympic trampoline gymnast for Team Great Britain, 2013 double world champion and 2015 European Games silver medalist, was excited to join her teammates from Washington-based Apollo at Infinite Air. “It’s so close, it’s ideal. I just wish we’d had something like this when I was a kid; then again my mum and dad would never have gotten me away from the place! It’s really cool. I have been to a couple of these centres, but this is the biggest I have seen,” Driscoll says.

As she watched her younger Apollo teammates try out the new competition-standard trampolines, she added: “This is brilliant for them. They work so hard and it’s great to see them playing. There is not one person in here without a smile on their face. This is something the whole family can enjoy. Ten minutes of bouncing is equivalent to 30 minutes of running—it’s great fun and bouncing makes people happy.” After trying out the 12 x 6-meter inflatable BagJump for the first time, Driscoll showcased her jaw-dropping skills on the competition-standard trampolines, to help her prepare for the 2015 World Championship in Denmark in November, with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Something for everyone

Durham-based Coretech (Sports) Ltd. approached Rubb Buildings to design, manufacture and install the indoor trampoline park framework and trampoline systems within the Soccarena facility, which was originally constructed by Rubb in 2004. The company has also provided platforms, dodgeball and basketball equipment, netting and handrails for the trampoline park area.

“The park has been created for ‘big kids’ but it isn’t just for young people—it will be open to every age and physical ability,” says co-owner Richard Knowles. “From open jump and dodgeball leagues to birthday parties and corporate events, there’s going to be something for everyone.” The main trampoline arena includes a ‘fast track’, rebound walls and flat-padded sections, along with interconnected individual trampolines for free jumping and fitness sessions. Three ‘Slam Dunk’ basketball lanes have NBA-standard backboards and hoops. Wall-running trampolines have been installed and individual coaching will be offered to help people improve their bouncing. Two enclosed dodgeball courts are available to visitors as well as offering competitive league play. The park also has a gymnastic “tricking and tumbling floor” where people can learn new tricks, and an area specially dedicated to the modern sport of free running.

A cafe and rooms for hire completes the facility. “Over the coming months we will look to develop hospitality and birthday parties, fitness classes, special events and themed nights, dodgeball tournaments, family nights and corporate VIP events,” Richard Knowles says. “It’s an exciting time for us and it will be an exciting new attraction for the North East.”

A trampoline park was a new challenge for Rubb Buildings, but the company’s ability to provide a large, column-free structure is well suited to avoid hindering movement or cause safety issues for users.
A trampoline park was a new challenge for Rubb Buildings, but the company’s ability to provide a large, column-free structure is well suited to avoid hindering movement or cause safety issues for users.

Creating the concept

Brothers Richard and Chris Knowles, co-owners of Coretech Sports, described how they came up with the concept. “We were looking to do something in the leisure industry. Once you got beyond soft play, there wasn’t anything in the area to cater for that kind of activity, so we started looking into that. It took on various forms focusing on parkour and freerunning, and then we considered the idea of a trampoline park to bring everything under one roof,” says Chris Knowles.

(Parkour is a training discipline using movement reportedly developed from military obstacle course training. It includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement and other movements as deemed suitable. Freerunning is similar, but often less structured.)

One year before opening Infinite Air, Chris and Richard began talking to Soccarena chairman and Coretech co-owner Stewart Dawson about a joint venture at the football facility. They originally planned to use two football courts for the trampoline area. That grew to an area the size of four courts —half of the Soccarena facility.

“There are a very small number of parks like this in the U.K. We visited a few sites but wanted to do something bigger and more ambitious. We had a supplier in mind but they weren’t where we needed them to be and then Stewart suggested Rubb,” says Chris.

“We have been here now for ten years and the facility still looks brand new,” Dawson says. “The quality product and top after-sales service you get with Rubb is second to none. Our relationship has been great, and Rubb was an obvious candidate to work on this project. We are more than happy to change our plan of business, as Soccarena and Infinite Air complement each other very well.”

“Although we specialize in buildings, we were confident that we could provide the design, structural engineering, fabrication and installation to meet Coretech’s requirements,”says Rubb managing director Ian Hindmoor.

From vision to installation

“From our initial meetings with Coretech Sports, it was apparent that this was not the traditional type of project Rubb would be involved in,” says structural engineer Dale Robinson. “We are always looking at innovation and ways to break into new markets. The chance to work on this project inside an existing Rubb building was an opportunity we could not refuse. Rubb has a great relationship with the owners and staff of Soccarena, and having built the original structure, we had all the relevant information to give us the best possible head start.”

Various meetings took place initially to discuss Coretech Sports’ ideas and visions for the park. They wanted it to be the best in the U.K. and also unique to suit their business model, to brand and maximize use of the available clear span. “One of the advantages of locating a trampoline park inside a Rubb structure is our ability to provide a large column-free structure, which doesn’t hinder or cause safety issues for users moving from space to space,” says Dale. “Through detailed discussions we were able to put down on paper Coretech’s vision. When the final layout was agreed we were able to start to develop a suitable structural layout and design to accommodate this.”

Structural analysis was used to determine the size of the structural elements based on various loading configurations. Various sample frames from different areas of the park were fabricated and tested at Rubb’s facilities in Gateshead. European and international codes were predominantly used to determine loadings and ancillary requirements.

“We teamed up with various local sub-contractors with experience in the relevant areas, who assisted in providing the best quality solutions to suit the client’s vision,” Dale says. “As with any new development it is highly demanding in terms of technical resources. There are so many elements to this particular type of project. Rubb had to ensure that we had covered all aspects, from foundations through to nets. One of the most challenging aspects was the foundations for the trampoline supports. The existing floor was a sports surface with no concrete sub-base and it was not possible to excavate and provide cast-in-situ concrete. Rubb developed a system, which was able to provide ballast, prevent uplift and sliding and suitably spread any loads into the ground. This was one of the key developments that enabled the project to be completed in the given timescale.”

Rubb Buildings is a world leader in the design and manufacture of custom-made relocatable engineered structures for a variety of sectors including aviation, ports, construction, bulk storage and environmental markets (waste and recycling). Highlights include ground-breaking military buildings (aircraft hangars, shelters, storage facilities), specialist sports buildings and … trampolines.

Galynn Nordstrom is senior editor of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine.

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