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Chinese University of Hong Kong Sports Complex

This proposal for a university sports complex is part of a larger masterplan and architectural design competition for the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen. The project is a ground up, top-tier university campus with a total of 300,000 square meters of construction in Phase One and 150,000 square meters in Phase Two. The program includes classrooms, labs, dorms, faculty housing, administration, amenities, and sports functions. The joint design team, including Mack Scogin, Neil Denari, Brendan Macfarlane, and John Enright was organized and led by Thom Mayne of Morphosis in support of his continuing interest in ‘combinatory urbanism’.


The Sports Complex
This building is more than a sports venue; it is an idea about social space and multi-functionality for 21st century university culture. It features an entry sequence which, similar to Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house, creates a loose threshold between outside and inside worlds. Entry is delayed, in favor of providing shaded plazas filled with student life. These plazas allow views along the promenade and back towards the student center by Neil Denari and the library by Morphosis.

The form of the building is based on peeling surface from volume. Surfaces have razor-thin edges as if made of lines pulled out from a rubber box. Roof surfaces and ground surfaces connect in several locations to loosely delineate space. Infill-glazed restaurants are inserted into these outdoor spaces, adding additional spatial complexity. The building is simultaneously an object that contains its own context and a contextual object. It rests in the site as a bird in a nest, loosely, and without ever fusing together.


The building is made up of two, potentially phased, components which interlock and create a unified architectural whole. The Indoor Arena building features 3,000 fixed seats and 2,000 horizontally retractable seats, allowing for flexibility of use, from mini-soccer to basketball, graduation assemblies to large banquets. The 3,000 SM. sports annex building to the South provides additional area for swimming, team sports, and other types of university athletics.

The skin of the building is composite panels, allowing for individual panels to be large, and for the joints between them to be freeform and unrelated to the limits of conventional mineral materials. Embedded in this skin are figural tattoos which serve to visually bind the major building components together. These tattoos are inlaid with solar thin film technology.

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Status: Built
Location: Shenzhen, CN