MAD Architects is completing the Quzhou Stadium, the centerpiece of a massive sports park covering nearly 700,000 square meters in China’s Zhejiang province. The team, led by Ma Yansong, designed the complex for the historic city of Quzhou, located 400 kilometers southwest of Shanghai. The city is nestled among dense forests and adjacent to a mountain range, natural elements from which the project draws its organic qualities. According to the architects, the landscape is reminiscent of planets imagined by visionary science fiction writers.
Despite its 30,000-seat capacity, the Quzhou stadium is designed as a continuation of the surrounding area rather than an object that stands out from it. Unlike its fortress-like counterparts in urban areas, it incorporates much of the technology used in its production to be open to the surrounding public space from almost every angle. MAD Architects’ designers see the stadium grounds not only as a dynamic park adjacent to the city’s urban center, conducive to sports and recreation, but also as an opportunity for spiritual connection between people and nature. They echo the undulations of the site’s topography right down to the sloping façade. Even when the stadium is closed, visitors are encouraged to climb the structure and see it as an active part of the landscape. Appearing from afar as a halo hovering over the site, its overhanging design is the city’s new jewel. It is accessed by crossing the canopy from one of eight entrances, all with intricate double-curved surfaces that undulate like ocean waves. The canopy is supported by nine drop points. As a result, the building floats above the landscape and offers framed perspectives of Quzhou. Sixty sets of concrete column walls support the building, each constructed of wood-grained exposed concrete slabs. The canopy is composed of self-supporting steel, onto which a translucent light-emitting membrane is wound, capable of the complex geometry required for such a project. The canopy is made of a metal frame, but feels light thanks to the light-transmitting synthetic polymer PTFE membrane with micro-perforations to improve acoustic performance. The top surface of the canopy is made of a stronger PTFE membrane to prevent rain from entering the seating bowl. This is the first of two stages of construction for Quzhou’s largest sports park. The project will include a gymnasium, a natatorium, a science and technology museum, a hotel, a youth center and retail programs. When completed, it will be the largest indoor complex in the world.