With one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, Taiwan is known to have hundreds of modern high-rise structures including two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, Taiwan 101 and Tuntex Sky Tower. However, the country’s largest stadium in terms of capacity is not in the capital city of Taipei. The Kaohsiung National Stadium is found in the southwestern city of Kaohsiung, the second largest and busiest metropolis. The stadium was completed only in 2009 and specifically for the purpose of hosting the 2009 World Games.
A few years before the World Games, the city government of Kaohsiung was granted the right to host the games and immediately the city got to work by forming an organizing committee. One of the committee’s first moves was to renovate and construct stadiums and venues to meet the standards of the International World Games Association. The most important undertaking was the construction of the National Stadium that would serve as the main stadium in northern Kaohsiung.
Designed by a well-known Japanese architect, Toyo Ito, construction took only two years to finish the 40,000-seat arena, which underwent initial lighting tests on January 15, 2009. With a total capacity of 55,000 people, it has a huge track and field area, with two gigantic TV screens and a vast surround-sound system. It took 6 minutes for its solar powered lighting system to warm up and get going. Everything went perfect, and the rest is history. The stadium also hosted the Rugby 7, Flying Disc and other national and international events.
This is the first major stadium in the world to be lighted using solar energy, sending a strong message around the globe to save energy and be mindful of the planet. This is the pride of the city of Kaohsiung. With a total of 8,844 solar panels on its roof and vast external face, the stadium generates 1.14 million kWh of electricity per year directly from the sun, reducing an amazing 660 tons of annual carbon dioxide emission. Besides saving that much energy and sparing the planet’s ozone layer, the stadium’s solar panel system also generates surplus energy that may be sold during the non-game period. This is truly an unprecedented use of solar energy in Taiwan.
As an architectural feat, the C-shaped open design of the stadium makes it very inviting and welcoming. The spiral shape and design orientation protects spectators from the sun and searing summer wind, thus making the watching experience very comfortable. This 19-hectare facility houses the main stadium, sports parks, bicycle paths, ecological pond, and lush vegetation called the “green zone”. All the raw materials used in this architectural and ecological behemoth are reusable and made in Taiwan.
The 2009 World Games was a success. Hosting such an international event of that significance definitely placed Kaohsiung in the map. Situated in southwestern Taiwan along the South China Sea, this sleepy city used to be a very humble fishing village, but now it has the most vibrant economy and very inviting natural and man-made tourist attractions. Alongside the Kaohsiung National Stadium, the leading natural attractions in Kaohsiung are the Love River, Chai Mountain, and Cijin Island.