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Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Japan Architecture News - Jul 29, 2021 - 16:40   2779 views

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Global architecture firm Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation have designed a gymnastics centre for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games which started on 23 July and will be running until 8 August in multiple venues across Tokyo, Japan

The project, named The Ariake Gymnastics Centre, is located in the midst of a vast, wide-open landscape along a canal in the northern part of Tokyo's Ariake district.

Covering a total of 39,300-square-metre area, the building was completed in 2019 to serve the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which was postponed due to the pandemic last year.

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

Although the building was initially designed as a temporary international sports competition facility, the building could be converted into a permanent exhibition hall after taking out the temporary spectator stands. 

The venue has a 12,000 seating capacity with stands during the Games. 

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

The primary feature of the building is its extensive and generous floating vessel made out of timber which wraps the whole body of the building. A series of diagonal steel columns fully support the building.

As two design components "wooded facilities" and "sustainability" were the drivers for the venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the team selected timber as the main material to both express the memory of this district, which was once a timber storage pond, and to meet the design requirements explained in the brief.

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © SS Company Limited

The team created "a wooden vessel floating in the bay area," and applied timber wherever possible. Specifically timber was used in the roof frame structure, facade, spectator seats, exterior walls, while carefully considering the characteristics of wood in each application.

The ceiling of the venue is supported by a wood frame designed to help reduce the weight of the overall structure. The concourse space, where spectators approach the arena, is intentionally placed outdoors. 

The wooden facade is also conceived for acoustic and thermal insulation properties. "Function, structure, and space are tightly combined to achieve beauty and richness in simplicity, which is the essence of Japanese traditional wood architecture that we hope spectators and athletes from all over the world will experience," said the team.

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

Expansive semi-outdoor public space well suited to the Bayside setting 

Although the site is located in the midst of a vast, wide-open landscape, the design also needed to consider the residential environment of the medium-rise and high-rise condominium buildings in the vicinity. 

"The horizontally long and flowing lines were achieved by keeping the building height as low as possible, reducing the overall volume and controlling the height of the eaves," added the team.

"By positioning the circulation concourse on the outside of the building and creating an open and broad approach space, the design attempts to avoid the impenetrable exterior typically found on large-scale sports facilities created by the monolithic walls."

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © SS Company Limited

Realize a large wooden space spanning 90 meters 

"Lightening the weight of the structure by using wood for the roof is effective for buildings constructed on sites with poor soil conditions," added the team. 

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

To resolve this issue in this building, the architects designed a simple structure that uses single members of large glued laminated timber with high heat capacity, rather than trusses consisting of a number of small members, to achieve both fire resistance performance and structural stability. 

According to the team, Japan’s first complex structural system using Timber Beam Strings Structure and Cantilever Trusses created a large wood-frame space that dynamically covers the arena.

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Image © SS Company Limited

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Site plan

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Plan

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Section

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Section

Nikken Sekkei and Shimizu Corporation-designed gymnastics centre features a floating wooden vessel

Detailed section

Nikken Sekkei, founded in 1900, as an offspring of Sumitomo Corporation. The Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library was the first building designed by the Sumitomo Tentative Architecture Department (forerunner of Nikken Sekkei) and opened in 1904.

Nikken Sekkei is a multi-disciplinary global firm who sends services in architecture, urban design, research, planning and project consultation. Nikken Sekkei has offices in China, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Russia, Spain. 

Project facts

Project name: The Ariake Gymnastics Centre

Architects: Nikken Sekkei

Location: Tokyo, Japan 

Size: 39,300m2 

Building height: 30m

Completion: 2019 

Construction Document: SHIMIZU CORPORATION, Masao Saito (engineering adviser)

Construction: SHIMIZU CORPORATION

Top image © Ken’ichi Suzuki

All drawings © Nikken Sekkei

> via Nikken Sekkei