The Ariake Gymnastics Centre by Nikken Sekkei

Ariake Gymnastics Centre

Located in a vast landscape along a canal, the Ariake Gymnastics Centre has been likened to a wooden vessel floating in the Tokyo Bay. The 30m tall, three-floor facility presents horizontally long, flowing lines, an outside circulation concourse, and an open and broad approach space.

It avoids the monolithic appearance of more orthodox facilities as it sits adjacent to mid-rise and high-rise buildings. The Centre’s floor space was designed primarily as a temporary international sports facility, and secondarily as a permanent exhibition hall.

For a large wood-frame space, its use of a timber beam string structure and cantilever trusses makes it unique. Function, structure, and space are combined to express the elegance of traditional Japanese wood architecture. Timber is used wherever possible, from the roofing frame to the spectator seats.

This was done to promote “wooden facilities” and “sustainability,” as per Tokyo’s declaration of candidacy for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, and to pay tribute to its local heritage as a timber storage pond.

The ceiling’s wooden frame was designed to reduce the weight of the overall structure, an effective solution for buildings constructed on sites with poor soil conditions. The wood facade also takes into account acoustic and thermal insulation properties.

Fire resistance and structural stability are achieved using single units of large glued laminated timber with high heat capacity. Source by Nikken Sekkei.

  • Location: Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo Japan
  • Architect: Nikken Sekkei Ltd
  • Schematic design/Design development review/Construction supervision: Nikken Sekkei Ltd
  • Developed design: Shimizu Corporation, Masao Saito (engineering adviser)
  • Client: The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Total floor area: 39,194.30 square meters (at the time of games)
  • Number of floors: 3 above ground
  • Year: 2019
  • Photographs: SS, Ken’ichi Suzuki, Courtesy of Nikken Sekkei Ltd

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