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Xili Sports and Cultural Centre

MVRDV, Zhubo Architecture Design


Shenzhen Nanshan Government


  • Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries, Wenchian Shi, Gustavo van Staveren, Tiantian Zhang, Daehee Suk, Duong Vu Hong, Patryk Slusarski, Xiaoting Chen, Mikel Vasquez, Bowen Zhu


1,130,220 sq. feet
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Project Description


Located in a residential area along the Dasha Green Corridor, which stretches from the Nanshan mountain park to the Yangtai mountain park, the soon-to-be realised Xili Sports and Cultural Centre, Shenzhen is an experience centre for sports, well-being, leisure and culture seeking to achieve profound connections between nature, sports and culture, thus serving wide-ranging age groups and interests.

Shenzhen is the fastest developing urban region in China, transforming from production to a more knowledge-driven economy. These new sports centres fit into these developments focusing on a better quality of life. The City’s boom as an economic powerhouse has given rise to high-density usage, with stadium-sized sports arenas to match. There is now a need for a more human-centred approach, the challenge was to go from bigness to compression through understanding urbanism.

MVRDV’s design for the densification and development of a sports and cultural centre responds to the growing demand for fitness sports venues, with the intention of introducing a more fun, human, social and sustainable model that departs from populist Olympic-sized sports arenas. Exercise is still the main function here, but interaction within singular spaces gives way for more open zones, where different sports and social activities can occur. The centre is an urban interface that allows for flexible use during different time frames, crossing boundaries between sports and culture, whilst strengthening the community by encouraging locals and visitors to interact in these multifunctional spaces.

“We wanted to combine a large-scale sports stadium with a social aspect connecting it with the community. This was achieved by arranging different volumes on the site around a new diagonal (green) bridge linking the Chaguang metro station in the south, with the Tanglan mountains in the north, making this centre a stage for different users - nature, sports and culture”, says MVRDV founding partner, Jacob van Rijs.

The 105,000m2 centre consists of a 20,000m2 theatre-amphitheatre, 15,000m2 BasketballBadminton arena, 10,000m2 multifunctional arena and 6,000m2 swimming pool, presenting a dynamic public space with multiple layers. During the day, on the evenings or at weekends, different groups of people with different needs can also serve as a guideline for programming of the collective spaces. A special elevated running track is the signature element of the complex as it connects, weaves in and out of all volumes. It also invites people to go for an exciting run around the complex, relax and socialise both inside and outside.

MVRDV’s team worked with co-architects, Zhubo Architecture Design who are renowned for their influential works in Shenzhen and throughout China, alongside adopting a humanistic approach to the effect of the design and construction process on health, well-being and fitness. Xili Sports and Cultural Centre will be MVRDV's first project under construction in Shenzhen, starting in 2017.
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