A stadium with an ocean view
The 15-month construction schedule for the realization of Wuyuanhe Stadium on China’s popular holiday island of Hainan was tight – a challenge which, after having won the design competition, the architects of von Gerkan, Marg und Partners (gmp) were excited to take on. gmp managed to hand over the building designed for more than 41,000 visitors, on time for the opening in 2018. The proximity to the South China Sea characterizes the special atmosphere of the venue and provides the spectators with a unique panorama.
Wuyuanhe Stadium is the first major sports venue on the Chinese tropical island of Hainan. Situated in the provincial capital of Haikou it is conceived to host national and international sports competitions as well as cultural events. Designed by the architectural office von Gerkan, Marg and Partner (gmp) the arena is regarded as the first milestone in the implementation of an overall master plan for a comprehensive cultural and sports district, located east of the city’s new administrative headquarters.
The region’s characteristically tropical landscape and the special demands resulting from Haikou’s urban structure required an unusual approach to the stadium design. The architects harmoniously integrated the large building volume into a newly created natural and cultural landscape that extends as far as the ocean on its northeast side. Four streamlined ramps built along the building’s diagonal axes draw spectators into the stadium interior in a continuation of the flowing structures of the natural environment.
The height of the building diminishes from west to east. Its asymmetry is a response to the specific local conditions and is intended to maximize the number of valuable seats in the western grandstand facing the ocean. In addition to the impressive view, the shape of the arena permits natural shading and ventilation. The approximately 41,000 seats are distributed over two tiers on the west side and one tier on the east side. The western section contains facilities for athletes and media while the eastern section accommodates commercial and VIP areas. A 400 meter long track encircles the playing field in the stadium’s center. From a 2 meter wide, ring-shaped viewing platform at the upper end of the grandstands, visitors can walk around the stadium as though on a panorama trail and enjoy views of the city and ocean. Two prominent, 60 meter high floodlight poles on the east side provide additional lighting for events.
The building’s supporting structure must withstand extreme weather conditions and heavy rains. In collaboration with engineers from schlaich bergermann partner, gmp developed a special roof construction. The western grandstand is spanned by a crescent-shaped membrane roof that is 270 meters long and 65 meters deep with a surface area of about 10,000 square meters. The membrane’s translucent material allows daylight to penetrate the interior. The roof is constructed of two external compression rings and one internal tension ring.
Wuyuanhe Stadium meets the conditions of the 2-star standard for green building in China. Its sustainability concept includes, among other things, a rainwater utilization system that diverts the water into an underground basin at a capacity of 700 liters per second. Based on a construction method typical of Hainan’s tropical climate, a breathable façade made of silver-white, anodized aluminum louvers provides spectators with shade/partial shade and comfortable temperatures even when exposed to bright sunlight and wet weather.