Civic Sports Center and 2013 National
Games Arena by Emergent


Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

Los Angeles architects Emergent have won a competition to design a sports centre and arena for the 12th National Games of the People's Republic of China, to be held in Liaoning in 2013.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

The Civic Sports Center and 2013 National Games Arena in Shenyang will comprise an arena with 2000 fixed seats, a swimming arena and civic sports centre.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

A roof with cellular windows and solar panels will cover the different areas with a form derived from natural crystal formations.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

The project also includes football, basketball, tennis, badminton, and volleyball courts.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

More design for sport on Dezeen »

The information below is from Emergent:

Emergent wins First Place:
Civic Sports Center and 2013 National Games Arena
Shenyang, 2011

The site for this project is located at the heart of downtown Shenyang. Adjacent to Zhongshan Park, it is a connector between the natural and urban life of the city, making it a perfect location for a sports complex and for a National Games Arena. The facility has a total built area of 123,000 square meters.

Our project is based on creating an artificial landscape for sports activities while also creating an icon for the Games. The roof of the Civic Recreation Center and Swimming Arena are interconnected to make this continuous, differentiated sports landscape connecting Park to city with cascading sports fields, pathways, and open space. This landscape features Soccer fields, basketball courts, tennis, badminton, and volleyball courts at various levels.

The National Games Arena is located on the West end of the site - an iconic figure against the relaxed background of the sports landscape. This building is a symbol of both the Games and the new status of Shenyang as a top-ten Chinese provincial capital and international city. The architecture is based on crystal patterning found in nature at all scales. The design features large membrane bubble windows with views out to the Park and the city. The patterning of the windows spreads out onto the metal panel facades of the building, erupting as zones of solar panels on the roof.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

Click above for larger image


The National Games Arena building has its main entry from the Civic Square, but it can also be entered via bridges from the sports landscape on various levels. The arena is designed for 2,000 fixed seats above the mezzanine level and 2,000 removable seats below. With the lower seats removed, massive events can be held in the 40M x 70M space such as NBA games, Disney on Ice, international conferences, or rock concerts. The other sports functions in the building such as basketball, volleyball, and badminton courts are arranged like a gymnasium rather than in separate rooms. This also allows maximum flexibility of use.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

Click above for larger image


These two buildings are combined into a lively multi-storey complex where people can engage in sports indoors at all times of the year. The Swimming Arena is located to the west end of the complex, nestled underneath the cascading sports landscape. All pools are contained within a grand open space making it a memorable and urban swimming experience. It can be entered either from the South Façade or from the Civic Square.

The recreation center is located adjacent to the Park, and has entries from the north, west, and south. It is organized by a passageway which connects the sides of the site together into a network. Sports activities are located on one of four levels, in clear groups for ease of orientation. Skylights daylight the interior spaces and offer views of people playing sports outside. Ground level functions such as galleries and restaurants cater to the general public, making the space a community center as much as a sports center.

Civic Sports Center and National Games Arena by Emergent

Click above for larger image


The Recreation Center and Swimming Arenas will be constructed out of reinforced concrete frame and slab construction for economy. Certain areas such as the pools and large gaming courts will feature column-less spaces and increased beam depth. Other spaces will relax back into a 7M x 7M economical grid spacing. This column grid will be carried all the way down through the parking garage in the basement.

The National Games Arena will be constructed out of reinforced concrete, concrete walls, and steel frame. The long span roof will be made from deep sculptured beams which will be stabilized by interior armatures. These beams will also contain the mechanical systems of the space. The opaque skin of the building will be aluminum panel, featuring thin-film solar technology in roof areas. The transparent areas will be made of ETFE bubbles, which are pressurized with air. This system is extremely lightweight compared to glazing, and therefore requires minimal structure to support it. In order to reduce solar gain in summer and heat-loss in winter, we propose to exchange patches of the transparent ETFE bubbles with translucent bubbles consisting of multiple layers of ETFE insulated with aero gel or other high-performance insulation.

Type: Sports Civic Center, National Games Taekwondo Arena, Swimming Arena

Size: 123,000 m2

Design Team: Tom Wiscombe
David Stamatis
Bin Lu
Robbie Eleazer
Amber Bartosh
Josh Moratto
Ryan Lamb
Matt Moran
Esteban Ochogavia
Brent Lucy

Status: Competition Winner January, 2011. In Planning

See also:


London 2012 Velodrome
by Hopkins Architects
Watercube by
PTW Architects
VTB Arena Park
by Erick van Egeraat

Posted on Monday March 14th 2011 at 3:59 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • mirtec

    does it swim?

  • do noe

    nurbs nurbs nurbs..context?

    • Kim Nguyen Ngoc

      Learn your urban theory:
      If it's BIGGER than the surrounding mass, it creates a new context.
      "Fuck Context" never heard? SMLXL, by Rem Koolhaas

      • do noe

        and you agree?

        • kim

          Yes and it's logical, the Eiffel Tower has created it's own context, the Pompidou Centre as well as the Parthenon…Masterplanning without a decent understanding is just plain stupid. Using key words like context doesn't mean anything if you can even grasp what are the implication. If you are next to a discusting shed of 100m2 and you building a residential block of 2000m2 what is the meaning of context???

          • j11

            There's more to context than scale and massing….."discusting shed" is entirely subjective. In your bizarre and frankly unsettling world what bearing does context have if you propose a smaller volume?

          • kim

            My world is the REALITY of Masterplannning. Get a descent education, and read your classics, or at least work in the REAL WORLD. If you are building a smaller volume you have to consider the context, it's in all City council regulations.

      • NKot

        Contextual design doesn't require language or scalar similarities. It needs only understand the surrounding space, and it's impact upon that space. While a building, plan or design can't be looked at in a vaccum, it does not need to reflect it's neighbors, only to adress and respond to them.

    • bschne

      before you criticize learn your modeling techniques: sub-divided polygons…sub-divided polygons…sub-divided polygons

  • koMrio

    looks more like a Koi fish…

  • Sornrsorthor

    snake skin

  • Adam

    Great to see that Tom Wiscombe is finally getting the chance to built one of his pieces whose unique architectural expression has been brought to perfection over years of research in design and architecture. Sure that, as a former project architect at Coop Himmelblau, under his supervision this building will look amazing in the end. The only concern is about the birds eye view being the most important perspective of the projects´ presentation?!

  • jason

    this job is really similar to his earlier project, Dragonfly, was shown in 2007 in SCI-ARC, Los Angeles. It basically, use the same strategy to apply on this building. I like it though.

  • Red

    Congratulations Tom! Finally you won one! All the best for landing this baby!

  • Dan

    and another one…. these objects have nothing to do with nothing.

  • c.andexander

    after submitting the same proposal to hundrets of competitions, finally a first prize. congratulations.

  • tisha

    It reminds me of those monsters on Japanese cartoons, I would love that it could start walking or transform into something else.
    But a pleasant space, architecture? I don't think so. Some things are just better on screen.

  • I think this can work very nicely when built. awesome stuff Tom!

  • Zee man

    Someone finally picked this. Good luck successfully realising this.
    I thought this studio would have more fully refined this by now. In my opinion it contains acres of overpriced, tacky and unusable space.
    Funny, but it looks outated and garish already.
    Persistance pays.

  • kunasw

    over cooked

  • Edward

    A stark acceptance of contrasting forms is troublesome. The formal harmony is lost to the impression that a strange shape was simply "squeezed" onto the site surrounded by rigidly defined boxes. This is obviously a problem with the design team as well given the initial render which fails to capture the complete, massive structure in a "bird's eye" perspective. A partial love affair combined with a desire to carry out a formal study through any means necessary. What sacrifice to the project as a whole! There are constraints to consider though, and I do appreciate the renderings.

  • Chris

    Mmm… I do think the interior experience will be quite interesting. Still, the exterior shots of the building in situ look like an alien spacecraft from Halo sitting on an urban lot. Really guarded exterior at human level, only the one gangway/mouth to the right that lets you in.

    We'll see if the realization matches the renderings. I mean, we have the technology…

  • teefs

    Nice graphics. Hideous design! All about the capabilities of the modeling program, and not much else (polys in maya?). Garish is the right word.

  • Edmond

    All the years of checking your outfits work and wanting to see the projects materialize…Seeing the in-depth thought and details but in to your concepts and me thinking " when will people pick up on this"…LOL. I am really happy for you all at Emergent..Congratulations on this I am sure there will be more to come..
    Best best

  • david

    I don't care about context, I agree that you should always be trying to produce new context, hopefully while not ruining the old. The problem I have with this building is it that it seems overly formal, ie, form was given precedent over performance. I may be wrong. The other issue is that I think its ugly as hell. But that's aesthetics and you can't make much argument there. Plus, from the street you won't see the whole thing, and maybe it's more interesting in reality.