NBBJ’s competition entry presents a new vein of thinking for sporting venues
Entering into an international competition for the design of the new Shide stadium in Dalian, China, NBBJ has pulled out the stops to make its design stand out, creating a new concept to bring sports back to nature.
The original masterplanned site for the new stadium was set beside the ocean with the mountains to the rear. NBBJ’s design utilized the location to develop what they say is a ‘dramatically improved fan experience as well as greater ease of operations’. The masterplan has since changed, the competition halted while a new site in Dalian is being sourced, hopefully for NBBJ, with a similar backdrop to ensure their design is still relevant.
The architects have used an ‘organic architecture’ to challenge the typical stadium typology of a dramatic skin which shields the public from the activities within. Instead an open-ended ‘garden’ design welcomes external interaction, creates public space and invites visitors to breath in the surrounding nature. The short sides of the stadium drop down to public plazas encouraging inclusivity and taking advantage of the ocean and mountain views. Subtleties in the elevations prevent the access of the main stadium from these north and south plazas instead limiting access to three portholes through the east and west walls. The long sides of the stadium fold up from the landscape as planted walls featuring a variety of indigenous plants at a density of 10 to 20 plants per square metre. These walls contain all primary facilities including VIP suites, toilets and concessions stands, the mechanical spaces, and the ticket booths. They also provide the supporting structure for the innovative roof design.
While many stadiums remain open to the elements, NBBJ’s design for the Dalian stadium roof provides a unique form of shelter with a flexible system of cables and fabric which will flutter above the fans. “The fact that the roof is a collection of panels, each with its own orientation, will help to break up the wind off of the waterfront,” said a spokesperson for NBBJ. “Rather than a distraction, the shifting sound reflections from the different roof panels will amplify the crowd energy of the match, enhancing the Shide’s home field advantage.”
Within the stadium view optimisation is generated by increasing capacity along the preferred long sides. Seats near mid-field are also predominantly designed to hold clear views, ‘exceptional quality for a stadium of this size’, according to the spokesperson. The stadium is designed to hold 40,000 spectators with the open ends providing space for temporary grandstands which would accommodate a further 15,000.
With sustainable measures at the spine of NBBJ’s design they hope their ‘Garden Stadium’ will act as a unique integrated landmark for Dalian. All will depend on if the project competition meets its expected restart at the end of the year.
Niki May Young