Zaha Hadid Architects wins competition for the Hangzhou International Sports Centre

Inspired by terraced tea farms around the city of Hangzhou, China, the complex’s design includes a stadium, aquatics centre, and indoor arena, alongside parks and public spaces.

by STIRworldPublished on : Oct 31, 2022

Having presented a design inspired by the terraces used for cultivating tea on the hillsides surrounding the city of Hangzhou, British architecture practice Zaha Hadid Architects has been revealed as the winner of an architectural competition for the upcoming Hangzhou International Sports Centre in China's Zhejiang Province. This is the firm's latest foray into sports architecture, following their work on the London Aquatics Centre and the Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar. Encompassed within a series of organic structures, typical of the firm’s roots in parametric design, the project includes a 60,000 capacity football stadium with practice pitches, an indoor aquatics centre, as well as a 19,000-seater indoor arena — all configured around interconnected public spaces and green areas. The complex is expected to cater to athletes ranging from emerging talents at grassroots levels to seasoned professionals, through a plethora of facilities at varying scales. Furthermore, the development, located in Hangzhou’s Future Science and Technology Cultural District will also integrate into Lines 3 and 5 of Hangzhou’s growing metro network, providing connectivity from all parts of the city.

Video of the Hangzhou International Sports Centre Video: ATCHAIN, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

An urban sphere that is fast developing into a nexus point for many international technology companies, Hangzhou is a leader in the field of e-commerce, inviting significant investment and talent from associated sectors. Through their intervention, the London-based firm led by Patrik Schumacher, will turn a considerable portion of the project’s site into public parks, gathering spaces, event venues, and recreational areas to augment the expansion of the city. Bordering one of Hangzhou’s many waterways, the firm’s design will also establish wetlands along the riverbank that could provide essential drainage throughout their lifetime, as part of the contextual architectural measures that constitute this ambitious endeavour of colossal scale.

The design features a trio of structures atop a podium, with green areas and public spaces strewn between and around them | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
The design features a trio of structures atop a podium, with green areas and public spaces strewn between and around them Image: Plomp, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Situated on an elevated 45,000 sqm podium, which introduces open public spaces into the fold, the three main structures that make up the development have been placed around supplementary spaces that include training and fitness halls, locker rooms, offices, restaurants, shops, and cafés. These areas are further separated and connected by courtyards and terraces, which add breaks to the program contained within the podium’s striated form. As per the layout, the football stadium occupies the eastern end of the development while the indoor arena and aquatics centre have been placed towards its west and south respectively.

  • The largest of the three is a 60,000-seater football stadium placed towards the eastern end of the development | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The largest of the three is a 60,000-seater football stadium placed towards the eastern end of the development Image: Brick Visual, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • With a design inspired by terraced hillsides used to cultivate tea around Hangzhou, the structure is enveloped by a system of fine louvres | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    With a design inspired by terraced hillsides used to cultivate tea around Hangzhou, the structure is enveloped by a system of fine louvres Image: Proloog, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • The design also established wetlands for drainage along its riverfront site | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The design also established wetlands for drainage along its riverfront site Image: Proloog, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Enveloped by a system of fine louvres that wrap around the structure to regulate its transparency to the outside world, the football stadium is the largest and most conspicuous among the trio of structures, having been designed according to FIFA standards. Although the louvres may create an illusion of opacity when viewed at close range — resembling the fine line seen in geological strata — this effect is absent at greater distances, where the façade design becomes virtually see-through, visually linking the stadium's interior to its context. This translucent exterior diverges from the more inward-looking forms of contemporary ventures in stadium architecture, instead featuring a terraced configuration to house food and beverage stands with views of Hangzhou's skyline. Inside the venue, the seating bowl has been arranged to provide unhindered sightlines while creating an intense match-day atmosphere.

  • The stadium’s exterior flirts between extremes of opacity and transparency when seen from different distances | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The stadium’s exterior flirts between extremes of opacity and transparency when seen from different distances Image: Proloog, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • The external louvres resemble fine geological strata when viewed up close | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The external louvres resemble fine geological strata when viewed up close Image: Plomp, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Supplementary facilities such as restaurants and commercial spaces have been placed along the terraces of the podium | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Supplementary facilities such as restaurants and commercial spaces have been placed along the terraces of the podium Image: Proloog, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

 Of the two other blocks, the 74,000 sqm indoor arena boasts a capacity of 19,000 and is equipped to function as both a venue for some of China's most fervently followed spectator sports — such as basketball — as well as musical and cultural events. This multifunctionality could prove vital to the entire development’s commercial viability, considering how many ventures in stadium design only see limited year-round usage due to the sheer complexity and investment involved in organising sporting spectacles at large scales. Finally, the western fringe of the park is home to the aquatics centre, which accommodates a pair of 50-metre pools which can host crowds of up to 800. Besides hosting district-level competitions and training from athletes of all skill-levels, the pools can also be used by local schools for swimming lessons.

The project has been envisioned as an important point within the city for the convergence of local communities | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
The project has been envisioned as an important point within the city for the convergence of local communities Image: ATCHAIN, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

The conceptual design was also devised with a keen focus on sustainability and a minimal carbon footprint, as per Zaha Hadid Architects, aiming for a 3-Star rating under China's Green Building program. According to the firm, this will be achieved through the optimisation of material procurement and usage — from local supply chains and resource recycling — as well as the use of natural hybrid ventilation mechanisms, solar panels for on site power needs, and ground heat exchange and recovery systems. Moreover, the design also features considerations for rainwater and greywater collection and filtration, along with the removal of contaminants from the water supply with the assistance of indigenous aquatic flora and fauna.

The stadium has been designed as per FIFA standards with unhindered sightlines to provide an intense matchday atmosphere | Hangzhou International Sports Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
The stadium has been designed as per FIFA standards with unhindered sightlines to provide an intense matchday atmosphere Image: Brick Visual, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

In this vein, the multifaceted design for the Hangzhou International Sports Centre has set it up to be more than just another landmark architectural development along the city's ever-expanding urban grain. Instead, in the design team's view, the diversity of functions hosted within the complex could ensure that it becomes an important spot within Hangzhou from people of all walks of life to convene throughout the day.

Project Details

Name: Hangzhou International Sports Centre
Location: Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Site Area: 26.39 ha
Football Stadium: 135,000 sqm
Indoor Arena: 74,000 sqm
Podium: 45,000 sqm
Aquatics Centre: 15,000 sqm
Client: Zhejiang Hangzhou Future Science & Technology City Management Committee
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
Design: Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Charles Walker, Nils Fischer
Project Associate: Jakub Klaska, Lei Zheng
Competition Team: Joshua Anderson, Daniel Boran, Chun-Yen Chen, Hung-Da Chien, Michael Forward, Matthew Gabe, Rupinder Gidar, Jinqi Huang, Charlie Harris, Ivan Hewitt, Han Hsun Hsieh, Sonia Magdziarz, Xin Swift, Chris Whiteside
Sports Consultant: Clive John Lewis
Lighting: Lichtvision Design Ltd.

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