Like many cities in China, Hangzhou is undergoing rapid urban change. While the city center had historically developed around the West Lake area, opportunities for industry and commerce have shifted the city’s expansion towards the Qian Tang riverfront. New construction has tripled the city’s size in the past 10 years, leaving behind a modern architectural fabric that is powerful in scale, yet still in need of public place making.
NBBJ, in collaboration and partnership with CCDI, have designed the Hangzhou Sports Park: a vibrant, pedestrian-centric sports and recreation development located in the midst of Hangzhou’s new urban environment. Situated on the Qian Tang riverfront opposite of the new Central Business District, and encompassing a site of approximately 400,000 square meters, the sports park is seen as an opportunity for creating picturesque and sustainable public spaces that are often elusive in the newly constructed urbanism of China. This new place making will be accomplished while intelligently balancing the long-term commercial viability of the sports development.
Robert Mankin AIA, LEED AP, principal and sports practice director at NBBJ, notes, “this is a transformational project that redefines sustainable design excellence in sports facilities throughout Asia. It changes the game, and I applaud the City of Hangzhou for taking this important step.” Hu Xiaoming, design director of CCDI’s Sports Division, emphasizes the role the sports park has taken within the context of Hangzhou’s urban expansion. “The issue is not about how to sustain a large stadium commercially between games, but is about how a massive stadium can lead a two-million-square-meter mixed-use commercial program in a green park setting, form a future urban center, and redefine a new lifestyle. Our design provides what is exactly needed to support that agenda.”
Drawing conceptually from the geometries of the nearby river delta, the flowing forms of the landscape planning are the principal means of organizing the site, defining circulation and concentrating activities. The site is designed to create a seamless pedestrian experience that weaves together sports and commercial programs while forming a clear path of circulation between two planned major transportation hubs on the east and west ends of the site.
The site is composed of three layers of activity: An above-grade platform defines the sports boulevard, which links together programs such as the main stadium and tennis tournament facilities. On the ground level, pathways, gardens and plazas form a network of public recreation activities designed for alternative and extreme sports. Sunken spaces and courtyards lead to an extensive below-grade retail facility containing boutique stores, restaurants and a multiplex cinema.
The primary architectural element on the site is the 80,000-seat Main Stadium. The Olympic-sized facility will be the premier international sports venue for the city of Hangzhou, and is currently the largest stadium planned for construction in China for the next ten years. The stadium’s exterior shell geometry draws from the serene flora iconography found on the banks of Hangzhou’s West Lake in order to create a powerful and unique image along the fast-growing Qian Tang riverfront. The stadium bowl program and structure are coordinated with the exterior shell to create a unique concourse and circulation experience. On the north end of the stadium, the seating bowl opens to reveal a view to the Yangtze riverfront, connecting the sporting events to the new CBD of Hangzhou.
The Main Stadium broke ground in December of 2009 and is slated for completion in 2013.