Role of Innovations in Architecture & Urban Design

Atelier Alter Architects

BIT Sports Center

Architects: Jiyuan Zhang & Xiaojun Bu

Design Team: Zhenwei Li, Kai Qin, Ping Jiang, Wei Huang, Tongwei Liu, Dehu Du, Jiahe Zhang, Ran Yan, Lairong Zheng, Jiaming Mei, Lidong Song, Xiaoxiao Zhao, Jingshi Zhang, Bida Wei

Description: To break away from the test-oriented mentality, the Beijing Institute of Technology strives for finding an educational model that integrates science and Libra art. In response, the BIT sports center reiterates Leonardo da Vinci’s interdisciplinary dialogue on science, architecture, and art by constructing Da Vinci’s “Flying Machine” on the site, with “trajectory parabolas” derived from BIT’s Polytechnique studies.

Sited in Liangxiang, the satellite city of Beijing, the project responds to the horizontality embedded in the site: the mountain chain, the campus, and the urban park. The project’s austere expression and parametric syntax, manifest the technological aesthetics of BIT as well as the materiality in the Hutong and Great-wall of Beijing.

The severe long winter in Beijing calls for an indoor athlete space in the sports center with simple form but complex interior. The project includes a 3000-seats basketball hall, a 10-lanes swimming pool, and spaces for gymnasium, taekwondo, table tennis, etc. The challenge is to revolutionize the big-box typology from within.

With Mies’ “Universal Space” and Cedric Price’s “Fun Palace” in mind, the project creates an open field of porous campus that encourages visual and physical access to abundant activities. Spatial porosity engages creativity, criticality, and collaboration. Transparency in space inspires trans-disciplinary dialogues among students. Social space typology is redefined in multiple scales and definitions that trigger new collective activities. Space is permeable in both urban and architecture scales, through plan and section. In plan, as the basketball hall merges into the street life, the urban intersection is vitalized; an entrance promenade, sandwiched between the swimming pool and basketball hall, connects the north and south campuses. In section, elevating the seating in basketball hall liberates the ground-plate and allows programs to connect; as program interfaces are transparent, vertical permeability is achieved by nesting programs with one another; upper floor programs—taekwondo, table tennis, and testing center—all have different views into the swimming pool. The architecture offers a new educational model: learning from being inspired, in an active open field.