Page B2.1 . 14 June 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department



Saitama Super Arena: Three Buildings in One

by ArchitectureWeek

Depending on when you go there, the new sports and cultural facility for the Saitama Prefecture, Japan, is a 30,000-seat soccer stadium, a 20,000-seat basketball arena, or a 5,000-seat concert hall. The technology that makes these transformations possible is a unique system for moving a very large block of 9,200 seats, with related walls, floors, and spectator amenities. The block is 135 feet (41.5 meters) high and weighs 15,000 tons. In only 20 minutes it can move the 230 feet (70 meters) between the arena and stadium configurations.

This major moving component also includes a ceiling structure element that completes the visual enclosure in the arena mode. There are also several areas of retractable seats on the sides of the stadium configuration that can be moved away for the arena configuration.

The complexity of moving 15,000 tons of structure is compounded by the need to allow building elements to move during seismic (earthquake) occurrences without major structural failures, while still having safely enclosed egress passages. Including toilets, concessions, and circulation elements within the moving structure requires a system of flexible, quick-connecting utilities, for water, sewer and electricity, for quick conversion between the arena and stadium modes.

The building's multi-purpose capability is enhanced with a vertically moving floor, moveable partitions, and moveable ceiling panels. The floor in the arena configuration can be moved up and down to provide the most desirable concert stage or sports activity floor location, to ensure the best quality sight lines for each event.

To change the arena from a full sports arena to the various concert configurations, the arena can be divided by using rolling partitions. To adjust the acoustics to make them appropriate for each seating configuration, the height of the ceiling panels can also be adjusted.



ArchWeek Photo

The Saitama Super Arena: a new sports and cultural facility for the Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
Photo: Ellerbe Becket

ArchWeek Photo

The arena configured as a 30,000-seat stadium.
Image: Ellerbe Becket

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