Last Friday night, the world turned its attention to Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, designed by global architects Populous in collaboration with Boogertman Urban Edge & Partners, when South Africa played Mexico in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup. The inspirational design stemmed from the African melting pot or ‘Calabash’ and has created an iconic and visually stunning center piece for the World Cup that adds to the historical heritage of the venue where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after being released from prison.
Commenting on the opening event, Damon Lavelle, Populous’ Project Lead for Soccer City said: “The Soccer City project gave us an incredible opportunity to enhance a piece of African history and design a stadium that would be instantly associated with the African continent. All eyes will be on Johannesburg and the stadium on the opening night of the first World Cup to be held in Africa. We hope that Soccer City will be a showpiece for the Johannesburg community and Africa for many years to come and provide the fans with an incredible experience at the World Cup.”
The stadium itself has taken three years to complete, used 9,000 tons of reinforced concrete and has created employment for hundreds of people in the local area. The legacy from this project goes much further than just the stadium – a self-sustaining training center was established by the Soccer City Project to enable local workers to get involved and develop their skills for future employment, well past the World Cup itself. This center has assessed some 907 unemployed learners and trained 798 learners.
“Soccer City epitomizes what sport and a major sporting event can do for a nation and the people of that nation. Its architectural purity and simplicity reaches out, welcoming the world to partake in the event”, said Richard Breslin, Senior Principal of Populous. “We are incredibly proud of the project, and have very much enjoyed the experience of working closely with Boogertman Urban Edge and Partners, and all others associated with the project.”
From a design perspective, the stadium has a curvilinear facade made up of fiber reinforced concrete panels, in a selection of 8 colors and 2 textures, which reference the shades and textures of the African landscape. The bowl shape of the stadium mirrors that of the Calabash and sits on a raised podium outlined by the perimeter fence and turnstiles which are covered in an orange canopy and illuminated red thus creating ‘a pit of fire’ to naturally fire the ‘Calabash’.
Key stadium facts: