School Running Track Sports Innovative Rooftop Design

A four-story tall Chinese elementary school with space issues and an oval roof solved the former by utilizing the latter, laying down a rubberized rooftop track surface and securely fencing it in.

Located in Tiantai, a city of 560,000 in Zhejiang province, No 2 Elementary School installed the innovative 200-meter-long rooftop running track not so much as a creative way to utilize wasted space but also as a function of necessity: the school was built with a site footprint limited to 7,210 square meters (77,610 sq ft) and there was simply no room available for something as large as an athletic track & field oval.

“The track on the roof perfectly solved the problem,” stated school principal Qiu Tianguo to China Daily. “Our students love the new track.” By the looks of it, the school's solution isn't one that will be copied anytime soon – how many schools (or buildings in general) are designed with a multi-story oval floor plan surrounding an open-air central courtyard? We hesitate to imagine what a school with an open square floor plan might do (though here's one possibility).

Innovative solutions can create unforeseen problems, however, one being noise and vibration transmitted to the lower floors when some significant portion of the school's 1,800-odd students are using the track. Another is, well, you've got pre-teen kids running around on what was (and basically still is) a four story tall roof.

Naturally, the possibility of runners careening off the track was of some concern to school administrators and to ensure unwanted injuries (or publicity thereof) would not be forthcoming, chief architect Ruan Hao surrounded the track with a series of three protective barriers: a 1.8-meter tall outer wall made from tempered glass , a central green belt, and a 1.2-meter high stainless steel rail that acts as the first line of defense. These mechanical barriers are augmented by the use of remote-controlled surveillance cameras and constant supervision by school staff. We might also recommend the school's athletic program drop the long jump and pole vaulting.