Spain’s Tussols-Basil: an athletics track walled by nature

By Arnau Segura

Girona, Spain, Jan 21 (EFE).- An athletics stadium in northeastern Spain offers a unique experience for athletes, combining nature and the usual six-lane track.

“It is spectacular. It is incredible. It is a privilege to have this track,” professional triathlete Nan Oliveras said referring to the Olot’s Tussols-Basil track built between 1999 and 2001. “It’s like you’re in a world apart, here inside.”

“You can hear birds, there are no noises. It feels like you are alone with nature, and it even makes the training much more pleasant, somewhat less hard, you suffering less,” he added.

Oliveras is one of the elite athletes who trains on this track, along with fellow triathlete Genís Grau and FC Barcelona’s Laura Hernández.

The track, located on an old farmland, was designed in the early 1990s by RCR architectural studio, that won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most important in the industry, in 2017.

The idea was to “bring athletes closer to nature, because it seemed that all this was being lost,” Ramon Vilata, one of three RCR architects, said.

The track was designed “in a different way that had never been done before, because it avoided the typical typology of athletics stadiums, with concrete stands,” Vilalta added.

“What closes the stadium is the forest itself, not some stands. A large part of the materials used were natural: the trees are the walls,” he said.

Initially, the project provoked controversy among athletes and nature advocates for combining trees and athletes, but it eventually became “an example”, according to Vilalta.

The loca councillor for sports, Aniol Sellabona, said that the track is “a source of pride” and is “the most unique sports facility in the city.”

“It is incomparable with other tracks, an idyllic space in the middle of nature. It’s a living track, because even the colors change with the seasons,” he added.

The pioneering character of linking the stadium with nature “may seem like a more current concept, but we have been enjoying this track for more than 20 years. At that time it was a revolution,” he said.

Social media has drawn attention to the track over the past few years: “More and more people come from outside,” Oliveras said.

“A lot of French people come. When I upload photos to Instagram, people from all over the world and write to me ‘holy shit, where is this track?’” he added. EFE


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