This week will see the official opening of the University of Oxford’s new state of the art sports hall, which features a futuristic glass floor surface that could have been taken straight from a sci-fi film.
You may have seen one of these unique floors in action in BT Sport’s television studio, and now Oxford is proud to be one of the first places in the UK to offer this innovative sports technology to staff, students and the community. A unique system of under-floor LED lighting makes it easy to switch the line markings for different sports, ingeniously avoiding the confusion that comes with having multiple line markings painted onto the floor, like in traditional sports halls.
The new sports hall will be opened with a ceremonial slam dunk on Saturday June 2nd, marking the completion of Phase One of Oxford University’s redevelopment of the sports facilities at Iffley Road. You can read more about what else is planned here.
We caught up with Christof Babinsky, Managing Director of the floor’s manufacturers, ASB GlassFloor, to find out a little more about the flooring system, and what makes it so special.
Oxford is a famous university with incredible history – are you pleased to have been able to install one of your unique floors here?
Of course we are very proud Oxford has chosen our flooring system.
Choosing a new system over a traditional wooden flooring solution is a bold statement for a university of this reputation where tradition is of the highest importance. The completion of the installation process is the last step of a very long journey dating back to June 2014, when we had our first meeting with the university.
There has been a very serious approval and testing procedure in order for the university to choose the ASB GlassFloor.
What can people expect when they use the floor for the first time?
The sports hall gives an overall very high-end impression. Upon walking out the players will feel that it is a special experience to play at Oxford University’s new venue.
The black floor with the white glowing lines really does look futuristic and provides a different ambiance. The floor as a sports floor behaves very similar to a normal flooring surface. So the experience of using the floor will be very similar to using a high-end, traditional, engineered wooden flooring system.
In use the floor differs as there is no friction burning / skin burn when the players fall and slide on the surface and as the floor’s elasticity is a bit higher, the pressure on joints and strain on the body is lower.
Of course the look and feel that an LED GlassFloor communicates is very different, and the nice thing is that the look will not change over time, as the floor does not mark and will not show significant signs of ageing due to the materials that have been used.
What other advantages are there to using this surface over a more traditional one?
Other advantages are that there is lower maintenance requirements, the grip and elasticity of the floor is uniform across the whole surface, the LED lines are very well visible, and as there is always only one field visible at a time, there are no confusing extra lines.
Do you think the floor will appeal to people who like to play casual sports as well as more serious teams?
We know that it does. We have several clients in both fields. In terms of high end use, we have great feedback from the German Handball and Football Association that use the system regularly and the Futsal finals 2018 will be hosted on our surface.
The Harlem Globe Trotters once played on our floor, and we received an email of appreciation the following day.
In terms of regular users, we see how our private clients and other educational users, as well as casual ‘pay as you play’ users react to the surface, and why our clients come back for more when they plan their next venues.
The floor in Oxford, with its distinctive black surface and white marking lines will most probably appear in quite a few selfies and team pictures, and hopefully generate good feedback from the professional athletes.
We look forward to the messages and posts coming in!