China into stadia construction overdrive


China XiAn new stadium Image: Zaha Hadid Architects

Ahead of China staging the soccer spectacle – 2023 Asian Cup football tournament – plans have been unlocked for a historic new stadium in China’s ancient capital city of Xi’an which will be able to sit 60,000 spectators. The new Xi’an International Football Centre is expected to be completed in time for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in China.

The proposals were released by the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), with the company laying stress on legacy operations such as domestic and international football matches and concerts, as well as the 2023 event.

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid DBE RA was a British Iraqi architect who passed away in the year 2016. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She received the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011.

Xi’an is one of the 10 host cities, with Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium having been razed to the ground recently ahead of its repurposing for the sporting showpiece.

China Xi'an new stadiumImage: Zaha Hadid Architects

Serving a population of nine million, the football center in Xi’an’s emerging Fengdong business district will also boast youth training facilities. The groundbreaking ceremony took place earlier this year on the wider ¥8.05bn ($1.1bn/€1bn) complex that will include the football stadium, retail space, hotels, a news media center and conference facilities.

“Digital modeling has defined the geometry of the spectators’ seating bowl to optimize proximity and views to the field of play from all 60,000 seats, generating the most exciting atmosphere for football and ensuring an outstanding match experience for all players and spectators,” Zaha Hadid Architects said in a statement.

The eminent design practice says the starting point for the design was its ‘legacy mode of operations’, meaning it can host national, international matches and domestic league games as well as entertainment performances and cultural events once the flagship event is over.

The stadium will enjoy a series of south-facing garden terraces and an ultra-lightweight cable-net roof structure sheltering spectators in the saddle-shaped seating bowl.

China Xi'an new stadiumImage: Zaha Hadid Architects

To face Xi’an’s searing summer, a “wide perimeter roof overhangs shelter facilities within the building’s envelope while the large, shaded, open-air terraces and public concourses incorporate extensive planting on all levels”.

Apart from this, a translucent membrane over the seating protects spectators from extreme weather conditions and direct sunlight, while allowing an abundance of natural light into the stadium.

Integrated within the orthogonal urban grid of Fengdong’s business district, the stadium’s open façades beckons the City into the heart of the building to enjoy its public spaces, recreation and dining facilities throughout the day.

China is planning big on the stadia front and is planning to build new facilities in seven of the 12 planned host cities for 2023 after it was awarded hosting rights in June last year.

As well as Xi’an and Beijing, football chiefs have also nominated Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Tianjin, and Wuhan.

Minor rehabilitation work is being planned for Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium, along with the Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium, Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Centre Main Stadium, Changsha’s Helong Sports Centre Stadium and Guangzhou Tianhe Sports Centre Stadium.

The AJ100 practice has already worked on a number of football stadia around the globe.

In late 2019, Zaha Hadid Architects won planning permission, at the second attempt, for the world’s first timber football stadium in Gloucestershire (UK) – a 5,000-seat stadium for Forest Green Rovers Football Club.

Earlier last year, the design firm also completed the Al-Janoub Stadium, formerly known as Al-Wakrah Stadium, in Qatar. It will be one among the eight grounds to be utilized for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™. The stadium which can accommodate 40,000 supporters will be reduced in half to 20,000 once the World Cup is through.

China’s ancient capital has a long history and warm tradition of welcoming visitors from around the globe. In the global arena of football, the Xi’an International Football Centre continues this tradition and builds a lasting legacy of new civic spaces, sports and recreational facilities for the City.

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