Architecture of South African World Cup Stadia


Dublin Architect Architecture of South African World Cup Stadia image
World Cup semi-final stadium in Cape Town [68,000 capacity]

Table Mountain, Signal Hill and the Atlantic Ocean are the natural landmark features that form the skyline for the new Cape Town stadium. The architects and engineers involved (gmp – von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, Berlin, Germany in cooperation with Louis Karol and Point Architects and Urban Designers) had the challenging task of constructing a landmark feature for the city that didn’t detract from the existing skyline and stunning panoramic views.

capetown stadium architecture

One of the main design dilemmas on the Greenpoint project arose after concerned locals feared that the new build would have a detrimental effect on their existing views of the city from Cape Town’s hilly topography. As such, the decision was made to harness new construction techniques for the roof of the stadium and create a hybrid between a suspension cable structure and a truss-girder system. The roof surface is covered with safety glass, with the inner 16m being clear-glazed to allow as much sunlight as possible to fall onto the pitch. The rest of the glass is enamelled, which helps to lower heat dissipation underneath the roof and absorbs approximately 80% of the incoming light. The architects originally wanted to construct the lowest of the three tiers underground to reduce the height and visual impact of the stadium, however the hard rock formation on the site (at the foot of Signal Hill) prevented this approach. Instead, an elevated podium of approximately 5 hectares was introduced, reducing the visual impact of the build by 25%.

In an attempt to transform the building into a permanent sculpture, the form is shrouded in a semi-transparent, light-coloured glass fabric with a soft silver coating. This material will absorb and reflect the weather conditions, and appear to shine like a lantern at night in this popular, cosmopolitan city.


Durban Stadium

capetown stadium architecture

The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban is capable of holding between 56,000-85,000 seated spectators,

The competition brief in 2006 stated that the new stadium was to be an iconic landmark. In contrast to the design of the Greenpoint Stadium which had to be specifically engineered to blend in with its natural surroundings, the Moses Mabhida Stadium makes a bold statement with an almost harp-like sculptural roof system. The 150m high arch is an integral part of the roof and provides the support for the suspension structure.

Situated on an elevated platform, the stadium provides stunning views across the city and out over the Indian Ocean. A cable-car transports visitors to a ‘Skydeck’ from which they can enjoy these views from the apex of the stadium. Many sustainability factors were taken into account when it came to the construction process. 30,000 cubic metres of concrete demolition material was reused from the old stadium, whilst water-saving installations, rainwater collection, low-energy sources, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, maximum daylight usage and natural ventilation have all been put in place in an effort to maintain the stadium’s state-of-the-art sustainable qualities.

The architects and designers on this project were Theunissen Jankowitz Durban, Ambro-Afrique Consultants, Osmond Lange Architects & Planners, NSM Designs, Mthulisi Msimang and gmp International.


Soccer City [94,700]


Soccer City Stadium in the suburbs of Johannesburg, is currently the largest stadium construction site worldwide. Originally constructed in the mid 1980’s and having hosted the first mass rally of Nelson Mandela after his release in 1990, the stadium has received a full refit inside and out.

The concept, designed by South African architects Boogertman Urban Edge & Partner was to make the façade appear like an African calabash. The glassfibre concrete panels were manufactured in Austria and transported 8,500 miles. While the transportation is not considered ecologically friendly, the cladding itself is known as an eco-friendly alternative to other materials with the production of fibreC having 40% less global warming potential than fibre cement panels or aluminium sheets.

The concrete elements were produced in Germany, with the new façade assembled on site in South Africa.

Google Sketchup 3D Tour of World Cup Stadia

For more information about the architecture and architects of the World Cup stadia (stadiums): – Most urban architecture critics rarely have the chance to review a new sports stadium, since they normally come along only once in a generation…. – Architect Bob van Bebber waited 15 years to realise his dream – and it’s a dream the world can share on 11 June when 88 851 spectators take their seats at South Africa’s spectacular Soccer City stadium… – See the architecture of all the stadiums in South Africa – As for the sustainable features, the new stadium was in part built from the materials of the old stadium, including 30,000 cubic meters of concrete demolition material. The roof membrane is PTFE, which is 50% transparent and provides natural daylight while protecting the fans below. Water conservation and energy efficiency were also top priorities, as was natural ventilation and daylighting. The stadium boasts an energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and is capable of collecting rainwater….