Zhonghe Sports Center / Q-Lab - Taiwan

Design Analysis

Traditionally, most of the district-based sports centers in Taiwan were built like office buildings nested within crowded urban fabrics. As a result, these buildings often do not reach their full potential nor do they open up more opportunities to the general public, in terms of social engagements and spatial arrangements. Programs inside these buildings are typically separated by floor slabs that disengage activities and block visual connections from each other; visitors were often left with no choice but to take elevators to their desired destinations. The lack of spatial and visual qualities was often the aftermath or syndromes of this building type, particularly in the metropolitan cities of Taiwan. Q-Lab understands the underlying challenges and decides to engage the project with an urban approach as well as with social agendas in mind.

Design Condition

The given site is located inside a large recreational park with a small footprint for buildings to be erected within. The plot is bound by a main road to the north, an existing parking lot to the east, a swimming facility to the west, and an outdoor basketball court to the south. Existing utilities such as gas pipes and water sewage onsite were to be kept according to the design guidelines. In addition, the overall budget is given at only $13,000 per square meter in comparison to the international standard of $25,000 per square meter.

Design Concept

The design begins from an urban analysis that helps determine where the main building was to be located and at what height it was to be built. The building then follows the overall master plan principal and develops from the guidelines associated with it. The design concept of the sports center was then generated from the idea of stacking all the required programs in the most compact form, which incorporates playful building sections that engage indoor space with outdoor surroundings and at the same time involves spatial arrangements with visual connectivity. One big decision was to house the field hockey rink away from the main building and bury it deep into the basement, revealing only its triangulated roof with grass covered on top. By doing so, we were able to reduce the building height and create less urban congestion in terms of building mass and scale. Moreover, with grass and soil covering the roof of the hockey rink, we are able to prevent summer heat from penetrating directly into the interior space. As a result, the cooling load was further reduced and a more sustainable environment was possible for the Zhonghe district.

Design Execution

With a low building budget, construction methods, material selections, as well as building geometry were all important to help realize the design intention. Q-Lab spent a tremendous amount of time finding the optimal building geometry so that all the column spacing would be equal and aligned, all the façades would be modulated and unitized, and all the structure pieces would be easily erected and assembled. Moreover, to further save on costs, only long-span spaces were realized with steel structure, while the rest of the building was constructed with reinforced concrete on the lower floors. The atrium on the first floor was designed to be a double-height space with mezzanine levels on both sides all the way through the entire length of the building so that the plinth feels open and spacious with no obstruction in sight. This atrium space is designed to function as an urban living room, which welcomes visitors with well-lit space and features urban furniture for people to linger and stay. The mezzanine level hosts a fitness room, a spinning-bike room, and three yoga rooms. The third floor hosts six badminton courts and two squash courts. The fourth floor houses two basketball courts and a rock-climbing room. These four floors were bundled together to form the “main building” with a faceted exterior that speaks to the hilly surroundings. The field hockey rink, on the other hand, was pulled away from the main building and reveals only its green roof to the general public with triangulated windows for people to peek below. This triangulated roof spans almost 200 feet in length and 100 feet in width without one single column. In addition, more than 200 seats at B1 level were provided when games were hosted.


A sports center in Taiwan is a place to meet, to see, and to be seen. It is a building typology that deals with strict sports requirements and at the same time engages the public with social protocols and agendas. Q-Lab approaches the design with awareness of its local environment and renders it with structural expression and architectural integrity. We strive to make public buildings sociable and accessible with dynamic quality in both space and form.