with the FIFA world cup being right around the corner we thought it would be a nice touch to tie together our love for architecture with our excitement for the most global of all sporting events. starting on june 11th, south africa will host the 32 participating teams, spread across 10 different stadiums. after receiving tough criticism from around the globe regarding the state of construction on some of the venues, we truly believe the country has pulled it together and is more than ready to host such a massive event (at least stadium wise).
GREEN POINT STADIUM, CAPE TOWN
this state of the art venue, designed mainly by german studio gmp architekten, fits 68,000 plus fans. its overall structure is intentionally designed to both stand out and at the same time blend in with its surrounding landscapes, mainly shaped by table mountain and signal hill. this can be perfectly captured by the stunning aerial views of the venue, which we’ll surely be seeing during the tournament.
NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, PORT ELIZABETH
further east along south africa’s coast lies another newly built footballing gem, the port elizabeth/nelson mandela bay stadium. also designed by gmp architekten, the venue holds around 48,000 supporters. its functional, futuristic design is met by a more traditional approach, with local craftsmen creating a 700m-wide exhibition of african culture. its aluminum-clad roof, shaped as a flower (or scarab?) is particularly designed to protect the crowd from the sun, as well as frequent, violent offshore winds.
MOSES MABHIDA STADIUM, DURBAN
the third and final design by gmp architekten, moses mabhida stadium is located right next to the coastline of the third largest city in south africa: durban. the arch-like structure that splits the stadium in half is actually a cable car that takes visitors right across the venue while providing stunning views of the city and the indian ocean. the stadium’s current capacity is 70,000 spectators. we are positive this will be one of the architectural highlights of the world cup!
MBOMBELA STADIUM, NESPRUIT
even though mbombela stadium is the smallest of the pack (43,589 capacity), it’s certainly one of the most iconic. this newly built stadium in the small city of nespruit, features a cantilever roof supported by 18 giraffe-like cranes colored in bright orange. being in close proximity to kruger national park, the venue’s seating also takes inspiration from local wildlife with its zebra-like patterns (see below).
PETER MOKABA STADIUM, POLOKWANE
comfortably seating 45,000 attendees, the peter mokaba stadium is also a newly built venue for the tournament. its design is made to resemble the typical baobab tree, with giant “trunk” like structures supporting its roof. another of its features is the innovative desso grassmaster, artificial grass playing surface. it will be the first time ever any world cup matches will be played using such surface.
LOFTUS VERSFELD STADIUM, PRETORIA
dating as far back as 1903, this is one of the oldest stadiums in south africa, and thus one of its most architecturally modest ones. the venue fits close to 50,000 fans and has hosted many historic rugby matches. despite its old age, continuous renovations helped the stadium achieve FIFA imposed benchmarks, with only minor touch-ups needed for the final run-up.
ROYAL BAFOKENG STADIUM, RUSTENBURG
the royal bafokeng stadium, named after the area’s ethnic inhabitants, is located in a platinum rich region of south africa . it was built in 1999, and only needed few upgrades to make it as an official venue for the world cup. one of such upgrades was the addition of a partial cantilever roof to cover spectators from the sun. it fits nearly 45,000 spectators.
SOCCER CITY, JOHANNESBURG
designed to resemble a traditional african pot, commonly known as the calabash, soccer city stadium was originally built in 1989 and re-designed by boogertman urban edge & partners in association with populous. the venue is famous for hosting the first massive speech from Nelson Mandela after his liberation in 1990. it currently holds 94,700 spectators, making it the largest in the african continent. the stadium will serve not only as one of the most aesthetically pleasing venues of the tournament, particularly at night, but also as its main attraction, featuring both the opening and final match.
originally built in 1928 and re-constructed in 1982, ellis park stadium was renamed to coca cola park in 2008. the venue, which was built as a rugby ground, has seen its share of history with south africa beating new zealand to lift the rugby world cup in 1995 (as seen on recent film “invictus“). after suffering some minor upgrades, it now fits 62,000 fans and has state of the art facilities for both spectators and players.
FREE STATE STADIUM, BLOEMFONTEIN
not much to say about our last featured venue for the 2010 world cup. free state stadium was built in 1995 for the rugby world cup. also known as vodacom park, the venue suffered a few changes in preparation for this year’s event. most notably, the addition of a second tier of seating to increase capacity to 45,000.