There’s nothing quite as inspiring as a sports stadium, especially if it’s home to your team or national side. Whether they’re classic, timeless venues, such as London’s Wembley Stadium and New York’s Yankee Stadium, or state-of-the-art venues incorporating the very latest technology and mind-bending architecture, sports venues stir something deep inside us.
Architects understand this, and this passion is reflected in their work seen by thousands, including the huge proportion of fans who never get to go to a game. Even when the local stadium is as spectacular as Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, most fans don’t get to visit in person and have to watch and bet on PA sports live online instead as they look to share the pride of knowing their team is playing in style.
There are many ways to approach stadium design, and architects around the world have risen to the challenge. From organic, living designs, to striking crystal effects, when given a free hand, they can create some of the finest architecture in the world. Let’s take a look at a few of the very best.
It may not be one of the most famous stadiums in the world, but Borisov Arena, the home of FC Bate Borisov and the Belarus national soccer team, is certainly one of the most eye-catching. Designed by OFIS Architects, it appears to be a living, breathing structure, with shimmering skin and cell-like openings in the sides.
Soccer City in Johannesburg, designed by Populus, also uses holes in its structure to dramatic effect, this time mimicking the stars of the African sky as part of its African culture theme. On the other side of the world in China, architects Herzog & de Meuron joined forces with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to bring to life the ‘bird’s nest’ of the Beijing National Stadium.
The light fantastic
The lighting for a stadium can be almost as important as the architecture itself, and nowhere is this more impressive than the Allianz Arena in Germany, home to Bayern Munich. Also designed by Herzog & de Meuron, this tire shaped stadium has thousands of small panels on its exterior surface that can light the stadium to suit the color of the home team – red for Bayern, blue for TSV, and white for the German national team.
Baku Crystal Hall, designed by GMP Architekten, offers an even more impressive light show to complement its already stunning crystal structure. It is beautiful by day as a collection of pointed pyramids, but by night it really comes into its own with a dazzling laser light show that stretches to the sky.
Innovation in action
These days, every new stadium brings a new idea that rewrites the rulebook. For example, Howard Terminal, designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group, who also created Mars Science City, will be the new home of baseball’s Oakland A’s from 2023. The stadium will not only feature a 27,000-seat stadium, but also a multi-level rooftop park from where a further 10,000 standing fans can watch the game.
Meanwhile, in the NFL, the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the new home of the Raiders, will have some incredible structural technology. Designed by MANICA Architecture, the interior will feature massive retractable windows to give fans a view of the glittering Las Vegas Strip. Also in the NFL, SoFi Stadium in California, designed by HKS, will feature The Oculus, a pitch sized 4K video board with 80 million pixels, weighing 2.2 million pounds.
As technology and construction techniques continue to advance, stadiums are becoming as big an attraction as the teams they host. Who knows what wonders lie ahead for the next Olympics, future World Cups, or the next generation of American sports stadiums. One thing is certain; these buildings will never be boring.