Although it seems like the media often regards China as the biggest greenwasher in the world, it is hard to dispute sustainable building when pure architectural facts and innovations are involved. The Foshan Pearl Gymnasium, China’s newest addition to its green array, is an excellent illustration of this point. Designed by Japan-based firm Mitsuru Man Senda and Environment Design Institute in direct response to the sub-tropical climate of the surrounding area, the vast athletic center examines the relationship between internal and external spaces and provides further support for China’s environmentally responsible attitude towards green building and design.
The dizzyingly vast Pearl Gymnasium functions as a multi-use sports facility that houses various sporting games, training, assembly, and events. Divided into three areas: the Main Arena, Sub-Area and Citizens’ Arena, the building is topped with silver aluminum domed roofs that are perforated to bring natural light and ventilation to the interior spaces, while also acting as a heat reflector to counteract the severely hot climate.
Characterized by its dominant structural systems, visible from the exterior, the gymnasium is composed of horizontal rings with alternating vertical members used as support. For additional reinforcement, Senda employed a multistage overhanging ring truss system with diagonal bracing that allows light and outside air to penetrate through the exterior facade of the building, which provide both natural daylighting and shading options while also protecting gym-goers from the harsh climate.
The exterior spaces surrounding the building are made up of water, introducing naturally cooled air inside the domes. In addition, the gym relies on natural ventilation to cool the interior spaces while also implementing mechanical cooling during hot and humid summer months.