We have also discussed this in the recent Sport&Impianti webinars. When faced with the design of a sports facility, which requires the installation of specific materials related to the athletic performance of future users, a generic specification definition (perhaps accompanied by the words ‘or equivalent’) is not enough to guarantee the result.
The designer must choose
The problem is particularly evident in the field of sports surfaces (whether multi-sport, athletics, football, etc.).
Not all surfaces are ‘equivalent’ to each other, and this does not mean that one is ‘better’ than the other: depending on the use for which they are intended (amateur, training, competitive, mixed) they may be suitable, in the knowledge that they may have a longer or shorter duration before needing to be replaced, and one must choose by weighing up the various pros and cons.
The choice is also reflected in the price: a precise and unmodifiable definition of the design solution will correspond to a precise value in the metric quotation. Otherwise, it is effectively left to the contractor to choose a different (and presumably less expensive) product.
This applies, for example, to athletics: if World Athletics (formerly IAAF) “recognises” seven types of sports surface, some of which include further different possibilities defined as “equivalent”, this does not mean that each type is substitutable for the other in terms of performance, maintenance, durability, and ultimately price. The designer must choose which system is to be adopted, and describe it unambiguously in the specifications. A choice that must be made with the client, considering the use that will be made of the facility.
As with athletics, the same is true for multi-sport surfaces, for synthetic turf, for padel courts.
Considering that the official price lists – as we have already seen on previous occasions – do not offer detailed entries for sports facilities, it is more necessary than ever for the designer to identify the exact description to be included in the specifications, without allowing for modifications, and to estimate the right price for that solution.