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Architecture studio Populous has been selected to design a new sports park in the historic city of Datong, in the northern Shanxi Province, near Beijing, China. This is the second major sports hub for Populous in China.

The sports park which includes a 30,000 seat stadium, an 8,000 seat arena, a 1500 seat natatorium and a multiuse training hall, is part of a larger plan by the Datong Mayor to regenerate the historic old city and create a new city centre with other development including a city hall, museum, convention centre.

Inspiration for the new Datong Sports Park has come from both its impressive cultural heritage and the stunning rugged beauty of the surrounding landscape outside the city. The rich valleys, escarpments and weathered mountain faces surrounding the Loess Plateau outside Datong City rival the brutally etched Judean desert as it stretches towards the Dead Sea. The colour and texture of the mountain ranges are comparable to the landscape of the Grand Canyon in America.

The win for Populous, which has its Asian base in Queensland, comes as its first sports park in Nanjing celebrates five years of successful operation. Populous won an IOC/IAKS Gold Award for the design of Nanjing, built for the 2005 China National Games, and the catalyst for a major city centre development.

The Sports Park in Datong will provide work for 10 professional staff in Populous’ Brisbane office. The firm’s senior principal Paul Henry said the win reflected Populous’ future strategy in Asia.

“Our strategy in China as elsewhere in Asia hinges on producing world class design in the Queensland office, and investing in the development of long term Client relationships.

China recognizes the value sporting venues have as gathering places for modern communities yet, which also reflect the unique qualities of each particular city.”

Populous Principal Andrew Colling says the inspiration for the unique design in Datong has come from the surrounding Yungang Grottoes or Cloud Ridge Caves, “These shallow caves just out of Datong are symbolic of the rich cultural heritage of the region, which has evolved over several thousand years. The visitor approach and entry to the stadium is like entering the nearby caves, with the sandstone bases clad in a series of irregular titanium shells.

The Datong Sports Park provided the opportunity to celebrate a number of strong, unique features in the city’s history and cultural character combined with the more humanistic ideals and ambitions embodied in the design of modern sports parks.”

via Archicentral

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