Looking ahead to 2012 we’re just salivating at the thought of the major sporting events coming up such as the Summer Olympic Games in London and the European Championship Finals in Poland and Ukraine. It got us thinking about the best new sporting venues in the world.
More than ever the stadiums are so important to the success of a world event and the design and construction have become national shop windows of the host countries affluence and expertise. We had a look at some of the most amazing sporting theatres currently under construction and here are the top five stadiums to rock your world in 2012.
Hangzhou Sports Park Stadium (Hangzhou)
The construction of what will be China’s largest multi-use sports park marks a watershed moment for the building of public superstructure in Asia and particularly in China. Located on Hangzhou’s Qian Tang waterfront just opposite the new Central Business District, it will include an Olympic-size stadium, retail park, public areas, tennis courts and extreme sports park.
What’s different about this development is it plans on putting sustainability at the centre of its design. That means using renewable green energy building materials, searching for green building certification as well a factoring in sustainability into their energy and water supply.
Designed by nbbj, the 400,000 m2 Hangzhou Sports Park Stadium will have a magnificent flower shape outer construction. Inspired by the geometric shape of the Yangtze river delta upon which Hangzhou is built, as well as local flora the vision is to supply the city with much needed public space.
Recent expansion and haphazard planning of the capital city of the Zhejlang provence have seen a dense and chaotic cityscape almost over night and this ecologically sound project is offered as an antidote to the until now frenetically piecemeal urban development.
The impressive Beijing National Stadium that wowed the world during the 2008 Beijing Olympic games was criticised as not factoring in sustainability into its design, whereas the Hangzhou Sports Park Stadium looks to set a precedent in an economy that, although powers the world economy at the moment, has often sacrificed the environment in place of economic growth. The official mantra exiting from China on all matters environmental has always been ‘growth first, environmentalism later’, perhaps for China, that time has come.
The Estadio Nacional de Brasília (Brasilia)
FIFA recently stated their intention to keep the pressure on Brazil for the South American to do all it can in order to be ready for the 2014 World Cup. Ok, we have the Euro’s and the London Olympics, but straight after them the world’s attention will be very much fixed on the booming economy of Brazil. This is not unusual, FIFA always take the ‘stern parent’ approach to developing nation hosts of the world’s biggest sporting event. Football’s governing body have voiced concern over the development of suitable infrastructure but one thing they can’t complain about is the stadia, which are truly remarkable in scope and which look like being completed on budget and on time.
The Estadio Nacional de Brasília was originally built in 1974 but is going over a complete reconstruction for the World Cup. The stadium’s capacity will be increased from 45,200 to 71,000 the reconstruction involves dismantling the lower tier while keeping the upper tier as part of the new rectangular bowl. As per FIFA regulations the playing field must be reduced in size to conform to football only use. The stadium will, however host football matches for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Nou Mestalla (Valencia)
This has been a long time coming and been a source of not a little consternation amongst the residents and football fans of Valencia, Spain. The main structure of the stadium was completed between 2007 and 2008 but since then building was halted due to financial reasons.
However, it seems a new backer has been found and the hugely ambitions and extraordinarily beautiful stadium looks set for completion in the not-too-distant future. Designed by architect J Parrish it was supposed to be Valencia’s shinning symbol of the club’s high-flying status in La Liga and in Europe but the worst recession in half a century hit the club hard and their reckless spending left them in dire financial straights. After flogging off David Silva and David Villa for a combined 69 million euros, work was eventually ceased on the skeletal structure.
But if the Nou Mestalla has become a monument for the financial woes of the Spanish club and for Spain in general, the completed structure could well come to symbolise the resurgence of the Spanish and European economy.
Olympic Stadium (London)
Everything about the centrepiece to the 2012 London Olympic games is a sign of the times we live in. Sustainability is the core feature of this structure and with steel in such short supply the stadium has been made 75% lighter in terms of steel use compared to other stadia. The concrete used is also a reduced carbon type that contains 40% less captivated carbon than usual, even the upper ring of the structure was built using disused gas pipes. It is a testament to the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ approach to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Situated on an ‘island’, with water on three sides, the stadium will become the third biggest in London apart from Wembley and Twickenham and will seat 80,000 spectators. That number will be reduced to 60, 000 as the upper ring of seating will be removed. It is hoped that the reduced capacity will make it more attractive to prospective tenants who would wish to make it their home after the games. The athletics track, however, should stay, as a mult-use function of the stadium is preferred to preserve the legacy of the Olympic games. This may put off certain bidders who would want a sport-specific stadium. Generally athletics tracks keep the spectators too far from the action for sports like football.
Estàdio do Maracanã (Rio de Janeiro)
Originally built in 1950 for the FIFA World Cup this great cathedral of Brazilian football has already hosted a World Cup Final when Brazil lost to Uraguay 2-1. The Maracanã will become the second stadium to host two finals. The huge renovation job will make this a state-of-the-art facility adequate to host not only the World Cup Final, but also the opening and closing ceremonies and the football events of the 2016 Olympics.
The new stadium will accommodate an all-seated 82, 238 spectators and house a huge number other facilities both for community and corporate use. The stadium, which is named after the Maracanã neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro has played host to many different types of events over the years from volleyball games to music concerts, even Pope John Paul II celebrated mass here.
In the country where football is more a religion than a past time the sense of occasion for the World Cup in Brazil will be of a never-before-seen magnitude. If Brazil really is the spiritual home of world football, then the hallowed turf of the Estàdio do Maracanã, in the football-mad city of Rio de Janeiro may well be the most important pitch in the world.
by Hugo Mc Cafferty