Construction begins on SIP Sports Center in Suzhou

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Construction work on the SIP Sports Centre has started in the Chinese city of Suzhou. The multifunctional sports center in Suzhou Industrial Park, designed by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, has been scheduled for completion in 2017. The complex combines sports facilities for large events, leisure and cultural facilities, as well as shopping and hotel functions in a publicly accessible park landscape.

The master plan for the new sports park calls to mind Suzhou’s traditional association with landscape design. In a modern interpretation of the city’s traditional gardens, an informally designed park landscape flows around the podia that rise in straight lines from the surrounding streets and support the stadia. The curved roofs of the stadia give the impression of pavilions, marking the high points in this landscape. As visitors walk along the curved pathways, various vistas open up to water features, pavilion architecture and the landscape. The site opens out to the Xietang River to the south, with various sports grounds embedded in the landscape.

The sports park – which has been jointly developed by the city and district authorities – includes a 45,000-seater stadium, an indoor pool with 3,000 seats and a sports hall with 15,000 seats. The venue is surrounded by numerous residential quarters. With a range of functionality beyond just sporting events, the park has been designed to ensure a permanent and sustainable flow of visitors.

All three stadia are topped by undulating roofs, designed to make the development visible from afar. The character of the three venues is reinforced by a uniform façade design – the façades of both stadia and the podia are structured with horizontal lines which follow the shape of the buildings in elegant curves.

Owing to its size and clear span of 820ft, the 45,000-seat stadium, with its covered stands, forms the focal point of the park. Its curved silhouette stands out from the urban environment, blending with the landscape and the park at the Xietang River. The single-skin cable network roof construction with a membrane skin boasts a resource-saving, economical design, and an appearance its designers aim to be reminiscent of floating curved silk.

The indoor swimming pool, with an undulating roof shape created with a single-skin cable network construction, combines an elegant, floating appearance with great structural strength. In addition to the competition and training pools, the swimming hall includes a spa area, leisure pools and sports shops.

The roof of the covered 15,000-seater multipurpose hall, which is located to the north-east of the site, is supported by V-shaped columns. These provide a rhythm to the transparent glass façade of the hall, which is just as suitable for large international sports events as it is for concerts, exhibitions, and other events.

In addition to the three sports stadia, the site features a hotel and retail center designed to harmonize with the undulating landscape. Its façades replicate the horizontal lines of the other buildings, and fit harmoniously into the ensemble. A special dynamism is created by the lines of the high-rise building façade, which are spaced at reducing intervals toward the top, conveying an elegance to the tower.

The facility is well connected to the Metro and offers Suzhou citizens not only parking, sports and leisure facilities, but also various shops for day-to-day needs, thus creating an attractive center for the new part of the city.

October 9, 2015

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