The Longhua Sports Center Competition offers the opportunity to develop a project that speaks to the importance of building a strong relationship
between architecture, urbanism and the landscape.
Located in a triangle between Qingquan Road, Jianshe Road, and Meilong Road, this site stands to form a powerful public space for the city of Shenzhen,
if conceived through the lens of civic stewardship and the better public interest. Recognizing that Meilong road runs along Guanlan River, and Jianshe
its tributary, this triangle can also form an important connection the water’s edge and a promenade that reinforces the public’s access, to one of
Shenzhen’s most important natural features.Indeed, as one of the fast-growing cities in the world and now one of the largest, it is a ripe moment to consider the role of parks to serve as the lung for
the city of Shenzhen? And what better place to serve as those lungs than a sports precinct whose dimensions stand to provide a volume of greenery and
oxygen that speaks to the importance of sustainable growth. Second to this, if conceived through the environmental conditions of Shenzhen –its heat,
humidity and tropical conditions—this is also an opportunity to invent an environment that protects the public from the onslaught of direct sun, to provide
for ample cover for both shade and rain, while inviting a generous amount of light into the scheme.
As a general strategy, we have developed a philosophy to maintain the green space of the ground intact for the entire site. By achieving this, we effectively
extend the park from Qingquan Road all the way to the riverfront walk on both sides. Then, in section, we sandwich key programs both below and above
the public promenade of the park. As such, the base is treated with retail on the street, and as one enters the spaces of the precinct, some of the more
public programs such as the Public Halls, children’s Auditoria, and Elderly programs are directly accessible from the ground level.
Raised in a ‘mat’ building, we elevate the range of sports halls and courts above ground, to serve as the “thickened roof” for the entire public realm
below. The size and scale of the program produces the possibility of a ‘mat urbanism’ since the syncopation of programs, aerial courts and light-wells
THE HANGING GARDENS OF SHENZHEN
THE LONGHUA SPORTS CENTER COMPETITION
create a generous relationship with the ground. Large vertical pylons serve as both elevator shafts and means of egress to long-span trusses above; in turn,
the trusses are inhabitable with corridors, ramps and walkways. These trusses are, in fact, an infrastructure for green-scapes: large trellis structures on which
ivy may grow, and from which columns of greenery may hang.This strategy attempts to form a civic monumentality out of the informal and chaotic conditions of the pieces of the city: we adopt the scale of the smaller
elements of the city –retail, small houses, courtyards and alleys—in tandem with the idea of a canopy that collects them to create something larger than the
sum of their parts. As such, the fa鏰de on Qingquan Road offers a continuous veil into the project, operating at the colossal scale of the city, while its base
blends the punctuation of retail blocks as a small village with green roofs as an extension of the pedestrian scale of the south.The character of this precinct, then, is defined by the strict order of a newly imposed running north-south, which is ideal for the sports field and outdoor
courts. From the urban mass of these courts and alleyways, the large sports field is carved as a large ‘figure’, a community green that can serve as public
space when it is not used for sports. Oriented as part of the main civic promenade, the corner of Qingquan and Meilong create a gateway to the siteand
connecting to the river beyond. As a monumental axis, this serves as a civic gesture against a backdrop of more intimate streets, alleyways and courtyards
that extend the life of the city into thegreen precinct.In sum total, the plan is flexible and functional. It has the ability to grow up, and out. It allows for varied programs and blends sports, leisure, retail, food,
and education as part of its core mission. It is also the lung of the city: the hanging gardens produce a salient feature whose results are not limited to the
mission of the program brief, but indeed exceed it: the hanging garden becomes a destination for the region at large.