Thursday, 21 June 2012

feature : Euro 2012 Football Stadiums

photo thanks to : inbedwithmaradona

Poland and Ukraine are not your usual candidates for good architecture. Sure, there’s loads of tradition and history, but the newer buildings are few and far between and even then rarely make it to any top 10 lists.

And then there was the Euro 2012 and all eyes on the joint host countries. If I am honest, expectation of anything with any credibility was low. To my surprise they have not entirely disappointed.

In all there are 8 stadiums – four in each country. Five of the eight are brand new, whilst 3 were major reconstructions.

To their credit they were all completed on time and generally follow a typical tried and tested construction method and form. The spectators seem happy enough, but this is a far cry from Italia ’90 where we were treated to some of the most iconic football stadium design ever seen – “cathedrals to soccer”.

The recession has no doubt something to do with it, but more realistically it is the mindset of those in charge. What a missed opportunity !

Fortunately there is one that stands out for me. It is not the biggest, not the most expensive and will not even host the knockout phases of the tournament. It will certainly not be seen with fireworks shooting out of an over-engineered exo-skeletal frame either. My choice is the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland, and I like it because it is understated.

Designed in the shape of a giant paper lantern by JSK Architects and completed by September 2011, the outer walls are covered by a transparent, glass fibre mesh coated with Teflon and can be internally illuminated depending who is playing there. Steel rings around the perimeter have given rise to its nickname, Stadium-Lantern. At a rather modest cost of only Euro 170 M, half of the spend on the other stadiums, the money saved could have been used on building more accommodation for the spectators, but that is another story . . .

by Darren Maddison

photos thanks to : duniabola

photo thanks to : escapetopoland

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