One week countdown to The Asian Games Opening Ceremony
September 15, 2023
In one week’s time, one of the world’s biggest multi-sports competitions, The Asian Games, is taking place in Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China.
Serving as China’s national equestrian venue, Hangzhou Asian Games Equestrian Centre will host the Hangzhou Asian Games 2022 which were postponed until 2023.
Populous, collaborating with Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co. Ltd., was engaged to conduct the design work for the conceptual site master plan and conceptual architectural design of the main area, weatherproof training hall, stable area, and other auxiliary rooms for the equestrian centre, and acted as the Design Consultant, providing advice and comments at schematic and development design stages.
Also known as Tonglu Equestrian Centre, it sits in the beautiful scenery of Yaolin Forest Farm, Tonglu County, Hangzhou of Zhejiang Province, surrounded by mountains and adjacent to the Fenshui River. With a gross area of about 54,000 square meters, the Equestrian Centre aims to build an international equestrian centre to meet the demand for Asian Games events and standards for comprehensive equestrian events.
It has been the only permanent venue in China that can host equestrian events, officially completed in 2022. The Equestrian Centre will host all the equestrian events of Hangzhou Asian Games (individual and team competitions of dressage, jumping and cross-country competitions), which is expected to feature six gold medals.
The broad challenge for Populous was not only to design a venue that placed sport at the core and showcased the region but also to create an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable venue that provides a unique experience for the wider community.
Specifically, the facility’s design created a sense of beauty in the natural landscape rather than intruding upon it, which helped inform Populous’ design for the venue.
The building chose to be a part of the landscape rather than standing out. A natural landscape inspired the gentle, curved, wavy form. The grand staircases and green slopes continue the landscape, inviting people into the event space and smoothly moving up to the concourse level—a fully opened concourse space without a facade that brings the surrounding nature into the concourse and seating area.
The grass stands were created by the building form give a few different ways of enjoying the events for spectators, not only sitting on the seats, but the space also becomes a family picnic area that can be opened for the public on non-matching days. It encourages more opportunities for the venue to engage with the public and community activities, not just for sports events.
The Equestrian Centre compromises 100m x 120m main arena, 60m x 80m weatherproof training hall, 240 high-standard stables, nearly 5,000 m track and 3,104 seats, in addition to Grooms’ residential and training accommodation, equine clinic, barn, farrier factory and other related functional areas. From an elevated view, the main arena shows a prominent Chinese character of “horse”. It is located on a hill facing the river and has an open environment with an excellent view of the racecourse. The interior is made up of a steel mesh shell. The blue, white and grey seats are staggered and organically integrated with the surrounding walls in the stands.
“Equestrian is the only sport at the Asian Games requiring people and horses to compete. The main objective of this invitational was to ensure that the venue was up to standard for the horses,” said Jiang Guijiao, Executive Director of Venue Operation and Maintenance.
Horses are naturally highly-strung, nervous creatures and the intention of the Games Equine Precinct is to create a quiet and calm environment that will be appropriate for the demeanour of the animal.
Equine health and welfare are the key considerations when designing stables, whether horses are based at the venue for a short or longer-term duration. The stables are designed to maximize natural light and passive airflow and ventilation to provide a pleasant and comfortable environment. Materials that are safe, robust, long-lasting, durable, and resistant to damage have been chosen. Most installations for the stables can be prefabricated off-site to ensure construction time is kept to a minimum. Sanitation and cleanliness are imperative in any stable precinct, and the stables and associated facilities have been designed so that waste, bedding, and food can be managed efficiently and hygienically.
In May this year, the Hangzhou Asian Games Equestrian Center launched the “Exciting Hangzhou” 2023 First China Hangzhou (Tonglu) International Equestrian Open.
In an interview with the official magazine of Hangzhou Asian Games, Catrin Norinder, Director of Eventing and Olympic of Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) and Abid Salim Khan Tarin, Deputy Secretary General of the Asian Equestrian Federation (AEF) who were invited to the event, both expressed high recognition of the Equestrian Centre. Catrin praised Hangzhou Asian Games Equestrian Centre for its world-class facilities and excellent event organization capabilities, and Abid even considered the Equestrian Centre to be second to none with its state-of-the-art facilities.
Hangzhou Asian Games Equestrian Centre provides a world-class equestrian facility for the duration of the Games by having a lasting legacy of a community recreational facility that also guides further the development of equine competition and training in the local region, including a research and training base as well as for horse-related cultural and tourism industries.
Following the Games, the site will be divided into an equine sports precinct, commercial precinct, residential precinct, and arable land, the legacy for the people after the Asian Games.