Architects Back Timber Vision for Brisbane 2032 Olympics

Buchan has joined forces with HKS and Nikken Sekkei to drive sustainable timber designs.

Tue 29 Aug 23


Australian-based Buchan architects have joined forces with Japanese architects Nikken Sekkei and international sports architects HKS, who have forged a design alliance focusing on sustainable timber designs ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games.

Earlier this month, HKS Director Andrew Colling spoke of the potential for a revamped Gabba Stadium to feature a timber shell “with blended greenery and sandstone instead of a cookie-cutter concrete stadium.”

Speaking to the Courier Mail, Mr Colling said the stadium could incorporate a parkland observation deck on its roof and a cocoon of timber and sandstone to “create something that’s not only distinctly South East Queensland but distinctly Australian.”

The relationship between Buchan and Nikken Sekkei is already steeped in history.

Architecture and Design reports that the Japanese practice is already working on Buchan’s design for Osaka’s Australian Pavilion for World Expo 2025. 

Representatives from Buchan and Nikken Sekkei met at the Buchan offices in Brisbane. (Photo Credit: Kishan Dhameliya)

HKS is the newcomer but boasts an impressive portfolio headlined by the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, which will host the 2028 Olympics opening ceremony, football, and archery.

According to Phil Schoutrop, Buchan’s Brisbane Principal, the trio share a love for community-centric architecture and is looking forward to bringing timber-rich designs to life over the next decade.

“The 2032 Olympic venues, and the spaces in between, need to capture our communal spirit and not end up being generic places that could be anywhere,” Mr Schoutrop said.

“Buchan’s extensive local knowledge pairs well with Nikken Sekkei’s sustainable design expertise to amplify what makes Brisbane unique.”

Japan is Queensland’s largest trading partner with Nikken Sekkei Executive Design Fellow Hiroshi Miyakawa, a frequent visitor to Brisbane.

Speaking to Architecture and Design, he cites Southbank, Howard Smith Wharves and GOMA as Brisbane’s iconic destinations.

Brisbane has its own unique character, and stadium infrastructure must embrace Brisbane’s subtropical climate.

“Brisbane has always been a popular destination for Japanese tourists,” Mr Miyakawa said.

“We love the people, the climate and the natural beauty of this place, as well as its vibrant, contemporary culture.”

Nikken Sekki has a dedicated ‘Wood Lab’ and was behind the design and delivery of ‘The Ariake Gymnastics Centre’ – the primary gymnastics venue for the Tokoya Games.

Nikken Sekki is the architectural practice behind the all-timber “The Ariake Gymnastics Centre.” (Photo Credit: Supplied by Nikken Sekki)

“Timber is a beautiful material that resonates with Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate and local architecture,” Mr Miyakawa said.

“Bringing our expertise in sustainable sports venue design to the creation of distinctly Queensland venues would be a wonderful legacy for our two countries.”

According to HKS Director Andrew Colling, the SoFi Stadium could serve as an inspiration for the Brisbane Olympic Committee.

In addition to hosting the 2028 Olympic Games, the HKS-designed super stadium also hosts the Los Angeles Rams and the Chargers. The SoFi Stadium is the most expensive venue ever constructed. Footage courtesy of @TheB1M.

“SoFi is a global benchmark for stadium design,” he said. 

“But every venue HKS creates is specific to its people and place.”

“To design for Brisbane, we need to look in the mirror. Who are we, and what will make a great addition to our city for 2032 and the next 50 years and beyond?”

Timber is already on the Brisbane Organising Committee’s radar

Last week, officials and timber representatives met as part of the “Timber 2032 Forum” and discussed the use of mass timber construction ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Palaszczuk government has broken with precedent and will keep the Olympic Delivery Authority – the group that oversees Games infrastructure – within the public sector.

Footage courtesy of @7News.

Timber 2032 Forum host Clarissa Brandt said, “The natural warmth and beauty of wood can enhance the overall atmosphere of the venues and athlete villages.”

According to Ms Brandt, the Strategic Relations and Communications Manager for Timber Queensland, the Games allow the industry to shine alongside its athletes.

“Our beautiful hardwood and softwood timbers are the gold medal solution to lowering emissions and reducing embodied carbon in construction.”

Earlier this year, the Queensland Government, in collaboration with the AIS, Queensland Academy of Sport and Athletics Australia, delivered a new Timber Pavillion using Queensland glulam. 

The new $2.7m Queensland Academy of Sports Indoor National Throws Centre of Excellence used glulam supplied from Queensland pine plantations, processed, manufactured and delivered by Hyne Timber. (Photo Credit: Angus Martin)
The new $2.7m Queensland Academy of Sports Indoor National Throws Centre of Excellence used glulam supplied from Queensland pine plantations, processed, manufactured and delivered by Hyne Timber. (Photo Credit: Angus Martin)

The award-winning pavilion – which will train the next generation of shot put, discus, javelin, hammer throw and decathlon stars – was the southern hemisphere’s first elite facility to achieve net-zero certification.

The facility is considered a test case for the Brisbane games and is the first to follow IOC’s now-mandated climate-positive games requirements.


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