Spotlight on Stadium Architecture at the Euro 2016
For most Euro 2016 pilgrims, the tournament is all about what happens on-field. But as a self-confessed design buff and trained architect, I can’t help but shine the spotlight on the stadiums themselves. Across France, fans will be descending on 10 keynote stadiums, each boasting their own unique design characteristics. Here’s a glimpse at the concepts behind these towering sports shells.
Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
With 900 exterior stanchions supporting the roof, the 42,000-capacity Stade de Bordeaux appears to defy gravity. Apparently, the towering stakes are designed to resemble pine trees in nearby Landes forest. The ambitious £130 million design comes as no surprise, given that it was created by the same architects that dreamt up Munich’s Allianz Arena and Beijing’s ‘Bird Nest’ Olympic stadium. Vertigo suffers beware, as the upper tiers slant at a 35° angle, the country’s maximum incline.
Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens
While the Stade Bollaert-Delelis was originally oval in shape, the 1970s saw the addition of rectangular stands which gives it a distinctly English aesthetic. Thanks to pre-tournament £50 million upgrade, the facilities are brand spanking new.
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
A multipurpose stadium, the clever design of the Stade Pierre Mauroy allows for the northern half of the field to be elevated several metres, then slid over the southern segment. The unused half is then curtained off to create a more intimate pop-up ‘showcase’ level that’s perfect for tennis, music concerts and other smaller events.
Stade de Lyon, Lyon
Without a doubt, this stadium’s standout feature is its sprawling umbrella style roof, which overhangs the grounds to provide shelter from rain and sunshine alike. When it comes to budgets, the Stade de Lyon is the Euro 2016’s most expensive venue.
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
A vintage instalment, Marseille’s Stade Velodrome was originally built for the 1938 World Cup. As a result, stands are distinctively round, which called for the addition of an expensive (yet impressive) undulating roof that wards off blustery mistral winds blowing off the Mediterranean.
Stade de Nice, Nice
A multi-event arena, Nice’s keynote stadium hosts a kaleidoscope of events, including football, rugby, tennis, motorsports and music concerts. Its modern design was engineered with eco-friendly credentials in mind, and features solar panels, a recyclable rainwater system and wind powered air conditioning.
Parc des Princes, Paris
Small but mighty, the Parc des Princes dates back to 1897. Though thanks to a £54 million facelift funded by PSG’s Qatari owners, it’s facilities are up-to-the-minute.
Stade de France, Paris
As France’s national stadium, this 80,000 arena is Euro 2016’s biggest venue. It’s unique elliptical roof appears to hover above the field, despite the fact that it weighs more than the neighbouring Eiffel Tower!
Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne
With a quartet of steep stands located close to the pitch, Stade Geoffroy Guichard is quintessentially English in its appearance.
Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
As the event’s smallest venue, the Stadium de Toulouse holds just 33,000 fans. Yet it definitely boasts one of the most interesting locations, perched on an island in the river Garonne. It’s shares uncanny similarities with London’s Wembley stadium, which earned it the nickname “mini-Wembley.”
As diehard football fans relentlessly cheer on their teams, I’ll be sparing a thought for the incredible feats of architecture that make mass scale sporting events possible, and contribute immensely to the ‘crowd culture’ that sits at the hearts and soul of the ‘beautiful game.’
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