Los Angeles-based design studio EMERGENT has taken first place in a heated competition for the Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena for the 2013 National Games of the People’s Republic of China. Located in the vibrant heart of Shenyang, one of China’s rapidly expanding tier-two cities, the new sports complex will be situated adjacent to Zhongshan Park, connecting the natural environment with the urban hubbub of the city.
The winning design is comprised of three individual entities: Sports Civic Center; National Games Arena; and Swimming Arena. The Sports Civic Center and Swimming Arena are merged together in an animated multi-storey structure, with the swimming facilities located in the western end underneath a cascading sports landscape. Various pools of different shapes and sizes are housed in a single open-plan venue, in an effort to provide ‘a memorable and urban swimming environment’.
One of the four levels in the building is dedicated entirely to sporting facilities, arranged in clear groups for ease of orientation. All activities are lit by natural daylighting, afforded by gleaming skylights which provide ever-changing views to the outdoor urban environment. Galleries and restaurants are organised across the ground floor and will be open for public use to blur the lines between a sports centre and a community meeting spot.
A key date on the Chinese calendar, the National Games of the People’s Republic of China is hosted on average every four years and brings together prime athletes from across the region in a challenging competitive event and celebration of national talent. Previously hosted in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Jiangsu, for Liaoning to secure its position as host province cements Shenyang's stronghold as a key tier two city in China’s economic growth.
EMERGENT’s design of the National Games Arena building is comprised of a highly flexible space, with 2,000 fixed seats above a mezzanine level and 2,000 detachable seats below. Once these lower 2,000 seats have been removed, the venue opens up for large-scale events such as NBA games, international conferences and music concerts. Additional sports functions on the Arena are arranged ‘like a gymnasium’, to increase flexibility of use.
The entire complex is encased in a bubble-like envelope, with no distinct separation between roof and wall sections. The long span roof area will be constructed using deep sculptured beams which will be stabilised by interior armatures, while the National Games Arena will be formed using reinforced concrete walls and a steel framework. The skin of the building will be created using aluminium panelling, with thin-film solar technology across the roof and lightweight transparent sections created using ETFE bubbles pressurised with air.
A continuous artificial sports landscape encircles the facility, incorporating football fields, basketball courts, and tennis, badminton and volleyball courts at various levels.