As public buildings, they need to be built from the perspective of society, life and the city, so that the “shell” of the building blends into the atmosphere of the surrounding buildings. Different architects have different perspectives, and architects need to have an engineering capacity to integrate complex professional systems, conduct in-depth research on various aspects, and control the details well.
Huzhou Wuxing District Culture and Sports Center
Sports architecture is vastly different in scale and massing from other types of buildings, and the first impression seems to be of a tall, complex category. It is like painting a landscape, which is completely different from the brushwork of flowers and birds, and requires a more holistic concept. However, it doesn’t mean that sports architecture doesn’t need to use the brushwork to deduce the details, but under the framework of the broad brushwork, the details should be reflected in the appropriate places.
Huizhou Olympic Sports Center
“Living” space and “living” information
It pushes us to think more about balancing human needs.
The “skin” of a sports building is used for specific race-time functions, but because it is partly created in response to the demands of the race, and is mostly a temporary facility that is largely removed after the race, we liken it to a temporary “skin” attached to the “skin” of a sports building. The “skin” on the “shell”.
The other layer of “skin” on the meaning of the non-physical space, is the running plan organization, all of the race space, room, material plans, etc., all need to maintain integrity with the running plan, let space, time, materials, policy and other aspects of the elements all integrated together, to ensure efficient operation organization and implementation.
Wuhan Military Games Main Media Center
This is an area that many architects and design firms would never consider, or would not actively consider. From 2008, when we participated in the design of the Beijing Olympic venues, to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, to the recently concluded Wuhan Military Games, we kept experiencing the meaning of the existence of this “skin” through the actual operation of the competition projects, and reconsidered what other factors influence the design of the building besides the building itself. The functional efficiency of the sports building during the competition.
At this stage, we are no longer just a designer, but we are involved as an operational organizer, discussing with the relevant business departments about the perimeter traffic, security, the functional requirements list, the fine organization of the flow, the spatial positioning, the mechanical and electrical conditions, the furniture and material plan, the professional systems and facilities, and even the service standards, as well as getting feedback from the frontline users through interviews during the competition.
It was a very tough challenge. We are used to thinking about architectural design alone in the dead of night, but we may not be used to the daily meetings in a room full of people discussing the minutiae of organisational plans or even the bickering. However, this is the process of organizing a sports competition. There is no perfect plan, no ultimate winner, only a constant balancing and rebalancing, and finally getting close to the result that satisfies everyone, until the closing ceremony when the torch is extinguished and everyone smiles with relief. In fact, this is similar to architectural design, where a contradictory issue is raised and then all factors are balanced to solve the problem.
Over the past ten years, our thoughts and concerns about sports architecture have evolved and changed, and that is, the brief moment when sports architecture shines at the time of competition will eventually end, and only the implantation of human behavior or activity is the continuous expression of its vitality.
The changing identity of sports architecture in different times makes us change from focusing on the “shell” of the architectural design to the “skin” of the operation at the time of competition, and return to the “core” that reflects the vitality of the building operation.
Along with the development of cities, many urban spaces have a lot of large volume sports buildings, but in the past, most of the time, sports buildings are not close to people, they only shine when needed, and then turn away from people’s vision.
Sports architecture is not just talk, nor is it defined according to the norms, people’s needs for sports are different in different times, this is the process of making sports architecture “live”, which also involves the third dimension “nuclear” part. More specifically, it is the multi-functional integrated operation during non-competition periods throughout the entire life cycle. This is the core “life stage” of a sports building, which can give it lasting vitality.
Huairou Sports Center
Operation is the central word in this phase. Sports facility properties are very different from other types of commercial or tourism properties due to the scale of investment, building space, consumer groups and consumer behavior, making operation difficult and the return on investment relatively slow. For these types of properties, which are highly dependent on operations, it is clear that architects alone cannot fully design the “core” of the facility.
In the early stage of arena design, we work with the professional sports operation team to discuss the positioning of the business type, space and equipment reservation, and propose an operation plan, which leads to an architectural design that is basically in line with the operation idea. It is an efficient sports building that combines “shell, skin and core”.
Beijing Nanhaizi Sports Park
In addition, we look beyond venues with large infrastructure investments to more flexible outdoor sports spaces, and consider how to efficiently transform an unused piece of land into an urban sports park, and how to embed effective commercial operations in a sports theme park, or combine appropriate arena construction with outdoor sports parks and theme parks, which are then integrated into the landscape by the design team. Park design, sports facilities and sports installations come in. An era is approaching when we will move from purely indoor venues to wider and more flexible sports venues.
Hangzhou Bay Sports Park
In order to get closer to the experience of sports events, we have developed from design service to product service, and joined hands with CCCC and Mo Box to develop a sustainable temporary facility that meets the changing needs through modular design. Temporary facilities are no longer disposable, but combined with business and tourism recycling, helping sports events to be warmer, lighter, more comfortable and greener.
No matter how big or small, during or after a match, a sports building with a complete vitality is warm.
From 2008 to 2022, the idea of sports architecture in China has been changing. The only new venue to be built in Beijing for the Winter Olympics will be the National Speed Skating Centre, the rest will be converted from existing venues. This typical change in thinking represents a shift in rational thinking and strategic decision making in sports architecture. In the past, people may have paid more attention to the macro level and pursued the grand and majestic appearance of the building, but in the future, people will pay more attention to the details and look for different ways of release in different spaces, so that people can communicate with the building through the medium of space and make the facilities in the sports building can be used sustainably and continue to contribute to the society. Only in this way can a sports building be a complete place, not just a cold building.
If an art museum is a quiet mountain, then a sports building is more like a moving sea. Warm and exuberant, inclusive of all things, giving athletes a bigger stage, more interaction and immersion for all.