ELAN Sport Club, Wadgassen (D)

Complete conversion of a rehabilitation centre into a high-end fitness studio

The creative redesign of a fitness studio is not an everyday task for an architectural office. In addition to the specific requirements of interior architecture and design, continuous operation during the construction phase must be ensured. Dipl. Ing. (graduate engineer) Sigrid Arends (aks) and her firm, saarchitektur, focused on simplicity, open spaces and integrative planning for the core renovation of the ELAN Sportclub Wadgassen.

“What can be imagined can also be achieved” is the credo of ELAN Sportclub GmbH. The creation of an inviting atmosphere paired with a self-image as a high-end fitness studio required a comprehensive redesign of the existing building. Originally, the premises in the centre of the Saarland municipality of Wadgassen housed a rehabilitation centre with a physiotherapeutic treatment area, the entrance to which was on the ground floor. In close cooperation with the developer, Sigrid Arends designed the basement access. A multi-storey concept was developed in which three levels were linked in steps by means of open, exposed staircases made of real wood. Access systems from Wanzl were chosen for an efficient and visually appealing organisation of the entrance area and the separation of the training levels into the Basic and Premium categories. The Galaxy Gate in the entrance area is positioned in line with the reception counter, thereby directing the eye to the operator’s company logo on the front of the counter. Daylight lighting, generated by a large ceiling light and two illuminated wall panels, opens up the room and, in combination with the puristic black shade DB 703 of the access control lock, creates a subtle tension. For this development it was necessary to raise the existing ceiling. A new concept was developed for the sanitary and changing rooms in the basement and these areas were also completely renovated.

On the ground floor, the former squash hall occupying two floors was completely redesigned. The wooden floor was replaced with anthracite-coloured flooring, which creates a contrast with the white of the walls and the training equipment. Violet and light-green colour accents improve the feeling of space and impress with their clear design. The height of the room was preserved. In order to counteract the impression of a hall and to improve the room acoustics, however, free-floating cubes made of plasterboard perforated panels measuring two by two metres were attached to the ceilings. Spotlights integrated into the cubes create harmonious, uniform lighting. The Premium level on the first floor was opened all the way to the ground floor and so is visible from there. The only separation is via a Galaxy Port from Wanzl. Its ESG safety glass is unobtrusively integrated into the overall design.

The architect gave her input: Sigrid Arends, Dipl. Ing. aks (

Ms Arends, what was the key challenge in this building project? 

This was our first fitness studio construction project. From a planning point of view, the requirements are not necessarily unusual, but the implementation had its pitfalls. The premises no longer met the requirements of the ELAN sports club, which was to become a Premium club. For this reason, a complete conversion was necessary. However, this had to be implemented without affecting ongoing operations – a subscription is quickly cancelled if the door to the workout area remains closed. The training equipment was therefore relocated to the adjacent Zweifeldtennishalle during the conversion phase. Sanitary facilities were provided by a container. Only the final phase of the equipment installation required the studio to be closed for14 days. This also meant that the equipment was delivered during the construction phase, so required space. Taking all these factors into account while simultaneously coordinating up to 25 employees from various trades on the construction site was probably the biggest task that we had to master here!

The architect gave her input: Sigrid Arends, Dipl. Ing. aks (

How would you describe your basic design concept for this project? 

We simply wanted to give the customers of the fitness studio room to breathe! With high ceilings, daylight lighting and puristic colours, our idea was not to create a simple fitness studio, but a place that radiates lifestyle and openness! At a time when the boundaries between work and private life are blurred, sports enthusiasts are choosing a studio that suits their self-image. To create this feeling of space was our main concern. In addition, the ELAN Sportclub categorises two areas. These must be clearly separated, but not at the expense of the sense of space we were striving for. By integrating the cubes, clear design and a discreetly installed security system, we achieved uniformity. Both Basic and Premium customers feel welcome here. Why did you decide to work with Wanzl? We quickly agreed with the developers that we wanted to forgo the classic stainless-steel-look turnstile, because it simply did not fit in with the self-image of ELAN Sportclub GmbH. During our research we came across Wanzl. In addition to its functionality, we were particularly impressed by the design of the Galaxy Gate. It is elegant and above all adaptable, as Wanzl offers a variety of colours for the powder coating of the stainless steel housing. With the solution in black against the bright background in the entrance area, we have achieved the high-class atmosphere we wanted! On a personal level we appreciated the professionalism and the excellent communication! It is the foundation of every good collaboration. We held regular, active discussions, by telephone and also by e-mail. In addition, our contacts were on-site twice for inspections and meetings, which creates confidence that the company delivers high-quality and holistic services. Working with Wanzl was simply fun!