FIFA – Architectural Record – "South Africa, Host of 2010 World Cup, Ready for Its Big Debut"

« This Friday, the 2010 FIFA World Cup gets under way in South Africa, marking the first time an African nation has hosted the global sporting event since it began in 1934. With 3.8 million tickets for sale, the month-long tournament, organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is expected to draw approximately 450,000 foreign visitors.

The South African government has reportedly spent billions on infrastructure improvements and stadium construction since the country was selected in May 2004 to host this year’s tournament. The match-ups will take place in 10 arenas—half are upgraded venues, the other half are new— located throughout the country and designed by a mix of local and international architecture firms. Here, we take a quick look at some of the stadiums. For in-depth coverage, check our RECORD’s July issue.

A Renovated Landmark
The most extensive renovation involved the 700,000-square-foot Soccer City in Johannesburg. Originally opened in 1987, Soccer City was South Africa’s first international soccer venue; citizens also rallied there when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. The City of Johannesburg hired the South African design office Boogertman + Partners with Populous (formerly HOK Sport), to strip the building and reskin it in a colorful mosaic of glass-fiber-reinforced concrete tiles, meant to resemble a traditional African calabash, interspersed with windows.

The Soccer City undertaking also involved installation of a partial roof around the stadium’s perimeter, new changing facilities, replaced floodlights, and expanded upper-tier seating, boosting total capacity from 80,000 to 94,700. The final match of the World Cup will be hosted here.

German Firm Scores
Of the five stadiums commissioned for the World Cup, three were completed by the Hamburg-based architecture firm GMP (von Gerkan, Marg und Partner). Green Point, in Cape Town, is among the trio, and it borrows its undulating geometry from Table Mountain and Signal Hill, which dominate the city’s horizon. The 1.25-million-square-foot building’s suspended roof with radial truss systems, clad in approximately 350,000 square feet of laminated safety glass and as much PVC mesh, best strikes the rolling form.

Both Green Point and GMP’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, located in the east-coast city Durban, will host semi-final matches: Situated on a plinth, 994,000-square-foot Moses Mabhida is dominated by a 345-foot-tall arch topped by a cable-car line for tourist rides. One side of the arch is two-pronged, while the other has a single footing, symbolizing the union of the formerly apartheid-afflicted nation. PTFE-coated membrane rises and falls like meringue between the arch and stadium bowl’s compression ring. »

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(Source: Architectural Record)

(Image courtsey: FIFA)

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