Stadium Where Worlds Collide, Humanely
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — For some of us, entering a vast sports stadium is always an anxious pleasure. Behind the electrifying anticipation of the game there’s the nagging feeling that every stadium contains the seeds of mass hysteria — that it can, in extreme times, become a place of terrifying intensity.
Designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the World Games’ main stadium, which will be unveiled at an opening ceremony here on Thursday, is shaped by a sensitivity to those conflicting sensations. It is not only magnetic architecture, it is also a remarkably humane environment, something you rarely find in a structure of this size.
The World Games, which have international sports competitions not included in the Olympics, don’t attract as much attention as those more famous games, and there has been considerably less buzz about Mr. Ito’s stadium than there was about the Bird’s Nest, the lavish Olympic Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron that opened in Beijing last year. Nor does it have the same symbolic ambitions.
Yet for those who have been privileged enough to see Mr. Ito’s creation, the experience is just as intoxicating. Clad in a band of interwoven white pipes, the structure resembles a python just beginning to coil around its prey, its tail tapering off to frame one side of an entry plaza. Unlike the Bird’s Nest it unfolds slowly to the visitor and is as much about connecting — physically and metaphorically — with the public spaces around it as it is about the intensity of a self-contained event.
The stadium, with more than 40,000 seats, is surrounded by a vast new public park, its grounds sprinkled with palm trees and tropical plants. Most of the trees are young, but in a few years, when they are fully grown, they should create the impression that the structure is being swallowed by a dense tropical forest. In essence the coiled form becomes a tool for weaving together opposing energies: the concentrated intensity of the stadium on the one hand, the plaza’s chaotic social exchanges on the other, the unruly forest all around. What brings the design to life is that Mr. Ito is able to convey this experience physically, not just visually.
Visitors arriving from downtown via public transportation, for example, walk down a broad boulevard before turning into the plaza. From there the stadium’s tail, which houses ticket windows and restaurants, guides them toward the entry gates. The plaza itself gently swells up to meet that area. Once inside, the surface drops down suddenly, transforming into a sloping patch of lawn that looks over the field. Mr. Ito imagines that during many events the lawn will be open to the public, letting visitors drift in and out without buying a ticket.
As people move deeper into the stadium, the narrative becomes more focused. Concourses and upper-level seating are supported by a ring of concrete structures that vaguely resemble giant animal vertebrae — Mr. Ito calls them saddles — that seem to be straining under the weight above. The character of the canopy (formed by the same white pipes as on the exterior) changes depending on perspective. Seen at an angle, the diagonal pipes create a powerful horizontal pull, whipping your eye around the stadium; seen from straight on, the vertical supports are more dominant, giving the structure a thrilling stillness.
At this exact moment — the moment when you are most in tune with the event about to take place — the outside world momentarily creeps back in. The tops of a few mountains are visible just above the canopy. So is the plaza, and just beyond it a distant view of the downtown skyline. It is as if Mr. Ito wants to remind you, one last time, of other realities, to gently break down the sense that the world of the stadium is all there is.
He is not the first architect to experiment with degrees of openness and enclosure in a stadium. Herzog & de Meuron’s 2005 Munich soccer stadium, which looks like a gigantic padded inner tube, is almost suffocating in its sense of compression. Eduardo Souto de Moura’s 2004 stadium in Braga, Portugal, is a masterly expression of extremes: embedded in a quarry at one end, its rectangular form opens onto a bucolic view of rolling hills on the other.
Like many who came to prominence in the past decade or so, these architects have sought to create structures that explore the psychological extremes that late Modernism and postmodernism ignored. Their aim was to expand architecture’s emotional possibilities and, in doing so, to make room for a wider range of human experience.
Mr. Ito’s stadium is the next step on that evolutionary chain. It reflects his longstanding belief that architecture, to be human, must somehow embrace seemingly contradictory values. Instead of a self-contained utopia, he offers us multiple worlds, drifting in and out of focus like a dream.
這 座能容納四萬人的體育場，主體結構是由白色鋼管交織而成的螺旋體，蜿蜒如一條正準備環抱其獵物的巨蟒，尾端往外延伸，形成入口廣場的一部分，場館周圍是一 片廣大的綠帶公園，數年後，當這些熱帶植物長成，體育場就好似被一片茂盛的熱帶森林圍繞。主體尾端和開口式設計，在意象、實體上，傳達將場館外環境融入體 育場內的體驗，就在視線隨著充滿律動感的主體結構曲線投向體育場內之際，遠方山頭和市中心天際線納入眼簾，伊東豐雄似乎藉此再次凸顯體育場與這座城市連結 的意念。
伊 東豐雄一九四一年生於日本殖民時期的韓國首爾，一九六五年自東京大學建築系畢業。一九九七年獲得日本年度藝術選獎文部大臣獎，二○○二年拿下威尼斯建築雙 年展終身成就金獅獎。除了高雄世運主場體育館，伊東豐雄未來還將在台灣完成台中大都會歌劇院、台灣大學社會科學院院館兩項作品，台灣北、中、南都可看見這 位大師的作品。