The Beautiful Stadiums of the Beautiful Game

The FIFA World Cup 2018 has just kicked off in Russia and football fever is, predictably, setting in across the globe, and the ArchiPhonic offices are no exception.

After reading Dezeen’s article on the 12 stadiums that will host World Cup games over the next month, our conversation turned to stadium architecture and we started thinking about the football stadiums across the globe that we consider to be – architecturally speaking – the most innovative, elegant and interesting.

After much debate, we narrowed it down to five (in no particular order) – do you agree?

Nou Camp – FC Barcelona

Designed by architects Francesc Mitjans and Josep Soteras, with the collaboration of Lorenzo García-Barbón and inaugurated in 1957 Camp Nou is located in Barcelona. Renowned for its imposing stadium architecture, presence and an electric atmosphere. This is created by the height of the stadium, the sunken pitch, which is lower than street level, and the proximity of the seated tribunes to the pitch. It is the largest stadium in Spain and Europe – and it’s on its way to getting bigger. In march 2016 the revealed plans to convert the existing structure and extend its capacity to 105,000 spectators, as well as adding a larger roof canopy. Work started last year and completion is scheduled for 2012, and we think it looks pretty snazzy (Image Credit: Rubén BCN in CAT)

Allianz Arena – Bayern Munich

Image Credit: Tobias
Located in Munich, Germany, the previously shared the ground with 1860 Munich until 2017 and the stadium, which opened in 2005, is considered to have set a new architectural milestone in stadium design. Designed for visual impact, the ground boasts a facade made of ETFE, which can be illuminated in the colours of whichever team is playing there. We love this simple idea as it makes the stadium immediately identifiable and the fact that this feature was part of the appointed architects’ solution when it became clear that the club’s original brief and budget were not compatible – it reminds us of our team’s problem-solving skills!

Stadio San Nicola – FC Bari 1908

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Built for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, this multi-use 58, 248 seater stadium is located in Bari, Italy and was designed by renowned Italian architect and engineer, Renzo Piano. It’s an extraordinary example of stadium architecture with the structure resembling a flower, with 26 ‘petals’ and upper tiers of the higher ring, which are separated by eight-metre empty spaces. It’s always great to see the influence of nature on the design of such industrial structures. The stadium is also called ‘l’Astronave’ (The Spaceship), because it appears to float and be detached from the land, with the steps from the upper tiers creating the impression that this ‘spaceship’ is about to land

Estadio BBVA Bancomer – C.F. Monterrey

Image Credit: 2.0
Located in Guadalupe, Mexico, the Estadio BBVA Bancomer is nicknamed “El Gigante de Acero” (“The Steel Giant”). Opened in 2015 it is the fourth largest stadium in Mexico (capacity 53,500) and the stadium architecture is impressive. It has a grass surface, suites, a club-themed restaurant, a club lounge, and exceptionally high-end interior and exterior design. But the really special thing about this stadium is that the inclination of the stands is 34 degrees and the distance between the seats and field is at the very minimum allowed by FIFA, so it means fans experience unsurpassed proximity to all the action and their idols and the atmosphere is pretty electric, which we think is a great example of turning ‘space’ into a living and breathing place!

Pancho Arena – Puskás Akadémia FC

Image Credit: Christo
This stadium in Felcsút in Hungary was built for the youth team of Videoton, Puskás Akadémia, which is why it has such low capacity – just 3, 816. However, it was designed by award-winning Hungarian architect Imre Makovecz and is globally renowned in the world of football and architectural design out for its remarkable and iconic wooden roof structure and exterior. The design cleverly balances its modern use as a football ground and its rural, very natural architecture. We’re impressed by how the rough cast-on-site concrete blends seamlessly with the wooden supports and would love to have a wander around the promenade that is incorporated into the roof structure.

Stadiums always have to be high impact, but looking at these examples of stadium architecture, you’ll hopefully see there’s more to it than just the game we love. Why not share your favourites with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram