The Hangzhou International Sports Center, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is a 26-hectare campus located in Hangzhou’s Future Science and Technology Cultural District in China. The complex serves players of various sports and skill levels while the surrounding areas serve as open green spaces for Hangzhou’s residents to enjoy.

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Night view of the Hangzhou International Sports Center with the skyline of Hangzhou and mountains in the background

The sports center is designed to achieve the highest rating (3 stars) for China’s Green Building Program. It contains three main facilities — the soccer stadium, indoor arena and aquatics center. Each space incorporates hybrid ventilation strategies for thermal comfort most of the year.

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View across a river to the Hangzhou International Sports Center

The 60,000-seat soccer stadium is the largest facility on the campus. It is designed according to FIFA standards and allows audience members to enjoy uninterrupted views from every seat. To optimize views, the architects utilized unique geometries to suit the programmatic requirements. These are seen as undulations in the louvered facade.

View from a public staircase to the soccer stadium at the Hangzhou International Sports Center

The facade blurs the boundary between interior and exterior through the stratified louvers that engulf the space. From nearby, the louvers evoke a sense of solidity and opacity. When viewed from afar, the facade becomes more transparent and connects the campus’ green spaces below the buildings to the rest of the city. Additionally, the louvers also shelter terraces that host food outlets and offer panoramic views of Hangzhou.

Aerial view of three large organically-shaped sports facilities surrounded by greenery

The designers used annual solar irradiation data to optimize the composition of the louvers. These analyses also helped inform the layout of the photovoltaic panels that harvest solar energy for the sports complex. Ground heat exchange and recovery systems have also been incorporated so that the facilities run smoothly and efficiently.

Night view of the Hangzhou International Sports Center soccer stadium

Located south of the stadium is the sports center’s indoor arena. It seats 19,000 and is designed to be flexible in offered programs. It can host spectator sports such as basketball and volleyball, but can also host large-scale musical and cultural events. On the western side of the campus is the aquatic center. It features two 160-feet (50-meter) pools that can be used for training and teaching swimming and diving. It can also accommodate competitive events with 800 spectators.

Soccer stadium filled with people watching a match

To connect the facilities, the sports center features a layered podium that meanders through the site. Its undulating design is inspired by the terraced tea farms on the outskirts of Hangzhou. Besides connecting the sports buildings, the podium also houses the complex’s shared facilities. These include the training and fitness halls, locker rooms and food and beverage outlets.

Interior rendering of the inside of one of the sports facilities

Besides sports-related amenities, the Hangzhou International Sports Center has meticulous landscaping which unites the campus with the city. Almost half the site is dedicated to public green spaces. These can be used for gatherings, recreation, events and relaxation. Since the site is located along the riverbank, the campus’s landscaping creates wetlands that double as filtration systems for rain- and grey-water. These systems optimize the abilities of local aquatic flora and fauna to naturally remove contaminants and thus obtain clean water.

Overall, the Hangzhou International Sports Center is a sustainable recreation space, designed with the public in mind. Unlike how many large stadiums only welcome visitors during competitive events, this sports complex is well-integrated into Hangzhou’s urban fabric. It is easily accessible from the city’s metro network and serves as a vibrant, new riverfront park. Its state-of-the-art recreational and sports facilities also attract the public and encourage a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

+ Zaha Hadid Architects

Renderings by BrickVisual, Proloog, Plomp and Atchain