Dalian Football Stadium by UNStudio


Dutch architects UNStudio have won a competition to design a football stadium in Dalian, China.

The building will have a double-layered, lattice-like roof inspired by traditional Chinese footballs, which are made from layers of coloured bamboo.

The stadium includes seating for 40,000 spectators, a TV broadcasting centre, players' facilities and a VIP lounge.

Here's some more information from UNStudio:


UNStudio/ Ben van Berkel’s design selected for new football stadium in China

Unstudio has won the limited competition for a 40,000 spectator football stadium for the most successful club in the Chinese Super League: Dalian Shide FC. The stadium will be built in the club’s hometown of the city of Dalian, on the southern tip of Liaodong peninsula in Northeast China.

The design for the 38,500 m2 stadium has been inspired by the colourful layering and overlapping of the ancient Chinese cuju football. The design weaves together the collective spirit of the spectators with the public realm and the urban context of the building. The main stadium houses spectator seating, TV broadcasting centre, administration areas, VIP lounge, players facilities and public concourse in a layered envelope which extends on ground level to provide outdoor public areas above decked parking facilities. In addition, the design incorporates two training fields on the 144,000 m2 site.

According to Ben van Berkel, “The design of the Dalian Football Stadium is inspired by the classic Chinese football, which was made by layering coloured bamboo. For the stadium design we appropriated this effect to generate a double-layered roof structure. This structure operates as a double concourse enclosure, encircling the tribunes. Splits and openings in between broad bands of the lattice structure enable views from the outside in and from the inside out.”

Stadium design

Essential to the stadium typology is the experience of the spectator. Aside from the basic function of a stadium as an arena for spectator sport with one central focal point, stadium design requires the consideration of many essential structural, programmatic, contextual, infrastructural and stylistic elements and the incorporation of these into a strong, integral gesture. Infrastructural considerations include ease of access and evacuation, visitor routing and parking facilities, while contextual considerations form an important element in both the relationship of the stadium to the city, its surroundings and its orientation with regard to nearby transport modes.

UNStudio’s design for the Dalian stadium presents an inclusive approach to stadium design where the articulation of the structure and the openings and overlapping moments of its double-layered envelope serve as the starting point for visitor experience and programmatic and infrastructural requirements, in addition to heightening spectator experience in terms of proximity to the playing field.

Ben van Berkel says, “A key feature of the Dalian Stadium is the proximity of the spectators to the pitch, thereby ensuring the best views from the tribunes and creating a true sense of engagement. As in theatre design specific views and focal points are required. In the Dalian stadium, we envisioned the playing field as the stage. A two tier seating system and curved outlines optimise the corners of the tribunes and allow the spectators to be as close as possible to the playing field.”


With a population of 5.7 million Dalian is the largest port in Northeast China and forms an important centre of trade, industry and tourism. In 1984, the State Council approved Dalian as a coastal open city during China's opening up to the West. In the mid-90s Dalian began an ambitious undertaking to become a world-class port city on the level of Rotterdam, and a host to international events. Radical city planning policies were implemented, improving the aesthetic appearance of the city and eventually transforming the centre of Dalian with architectural styles reminiscent of the Mediterranean and Sweden, thereby making it a unique city in China.

UNStudio’s design for the Dalian Football Stadium reacts to this setting by orientating the building in order to maximise both the use of existing transport modes and the views of the surrounding sea and mountains, whilst providing a unique sporting venue for the population of the Dalian.

Dalian Football Stadium, Dalian, China, 2009
Client: Dalian City Bureau of Urban Planning,
Location: Dalian, China
Building surface: 38,500 m2
Building site: 144,000 m2
Capacity: 40,000 spectators
Programme: Football stadium with two additional training grounds
Status: Competition 1st prize

UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Astrid Piber with Nuno Almeida, Ger Gijzen and
Cynthia Markhoff, Luis Etchegorry, Shu Yan Chan, Ramon van der Heijden, Marcin Koltunski,
Fernie Lai, Patrik Noome

Engineering consultants: ARUP Shanghai, China
Arup International Consultants (Shanghai) Co., Ltd

Sports consultant: ASS Planungs GMBH Freie Architekten, Germany

Traffic consultant: MVA Hong Kong LTD.

Visualisations: UNStudio / and SZ Silkroad Digi Tech Co. LTD., China
Animation: IDF Global Pty Ltd.

Posted on Monday October 5th 2009 at 1:08 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Wow, great looking design, like the idea of the bamboo footbal balls. The capacity for the stadium is very low though only 40 000.

  • laru

    really? this seems about as coherent as a typical third year undergrad project. not the best effort by u.n. and certainly not among the best in recent stadium designs.

  • Nice. A lot of visual nods to The Bird’s Nest, which is fine by me!

  • münte

    birds nest 2 :D

  • The stadium seems to loose some of the strong conceptual design the UNStudio is known for.

  • matt

    dear UN Studio,

    i regret to announce you that Herzog & de Meuron already won the Game. therefore, there’s no need to try to compete again, they designed the most beautiful stadium ever.

    now if you want to be more clever, stop designing and focus on the program, so that you can avoid building and so-called pretty empty shell without anything to host…


  • andy

    bird’s nest part two…poor copy….

  • birds nest pt.2

  • arnulfo alamil

    it looks like the bird nest stadium..

  • Bozo

    I love these guys but this ones terrible.

  • sun_milk

    from that ridiculous diagram and boring textual explanation to the final product.
    wasn’t expecting anything like this from ben. :/

  • dsad

    doesn’t come close to the bird’s nest. and i agree it lacks the highly conceptual + brilliant execution that we’ve come to expect from UN.

  • I like the bridges and the green areas around the stadium. Also the stadium itself looks great! Nice work!

  • guisforyou

    if it looks like the birds nest its because stadiums are programatically a like to them. they wrap around and create a central focal point, just like a birds nest. so how about all you ridiculous ignorants that say it looks like the birds nest, it does, just not the herzog de meuron one, which was not actually executed by them, but by the Chinese office that were there architect of record.

    get a life all you wannabes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • in fact, i feel all the stadium look like the “bird nest” in Beijing!

    It is the most impressed in my heart.

  • edward3ah

    I very much agree with guisforyou. To the others, please think before you give any comments.

  • Its great design, world is now becoming very fashionable with the help of engineering work. The engineering industry is an important economic factor. Thanks for such nice post.