Many westerners probably don't even know Xi'an is a thing, while it's a near-10-million metropolis. In just 700 days (!) that city is to receive its first ever football stadium.
Though it may sound impossibly, Chinese media have widely advertised this stadium as the first actual professional football stadium in north-western China. Providing it's true, one can at least say they selected the very best to carry out the project. The design was created by joint forces of Zaha Hadid Architects and Xian Dai (Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design).
This is why on the one hand we see a stadium typical for the late Hadid, with interflowing futuristic lines. On the other, there are multiple traces to the Zhou and Qin dynasties in the intricate stadium design.
Strictly geometric, the roof, column and ceiling layout confirms we're talking about a very specific desifn, created for one place only. So does the southern stadium opening, where the facade splits into four semi-open, landscaped terraces. Although the fluid roof line could seem universally modern, all it takes is one look from the most exposed southern plaza to see the outline and harmony of an ancient temple.
Even more, the stadium's southern opening comes as no accident. First, the facade is nearly enclosed in the north, protecting the stadium from strong northern winds. Second, the southern view is quite stunning. It combines the natural mountainous landscape with Xi'an's tallest modern skyscrapers, being built less than 3 km south.
The venue lies along the main axis of new Xi'an, miles west of the old, historical city. Interestingly, although it's part of a new business district, the stadium still offers enough room to fit 2 full-sized training fields along the main avenue, just west of the main stand. This comes as further emphasis of how seriously football training is taken in China, aside from any of the 2 professional clubs playing at the stadium.
Designed digitally in order to ensure good sightlines to all 60,000 spectators, the 3-tiered seating bowl towers over the field. While it's nothing new in global football, it's still a rare sight in China, as of 2020.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is the double-layered roof. All of it is expected to be material-efficient but the inner section is advertised as ultra-lightweight, barely visible for spectators inside and perfect for the continental summer climate of Xi'an. This way not just is the field getting most of the sunlight but most of the stadium should offer an open-air feeling.
With a total construction area of 239,000 m2, the stadium offers far more than just regular football use. In fact, it's been designed with legacy use in mind, making it an attractive leisure and commercial destination on a daily basis, part of the new district's appeal. Even more, Xi'an's ever-growing subway system is expected to enable everyone within the metro's range to arrive at the stadium within 30 minutes, a truly stunning figure for a near-10-million metropolis.
Official groundbreaking ceremony took place on August 13, 2020, though preparation for it began weeks in advance. The construction time frame is extremely ambitious, at just 700 days! In mid-2022 the stadium should be ready, a year before it hosts the 2023 AFC Asian Cup games as one of 10 Chinese host venues.