The African Pot Takes Shape

The flagship FIFA World Cup Stadium, also known as The Soccer City Stadium, is currently the largest stadium construction site worldwide employing 3,000 personnel. Originally constructed in the mid 1980’s and having hosted the first mass rally of Nelson Mandela after his release in 1990, the stadium is receiving a full refit inside and out. Heading towards the deadline of the 2010 World Cup, the Austrian firm tasked with the delivery of the exterior cladding advises that this will complete in just 80 days.

Rieder Smart Elements will deliver the façade. They have created approximately 40,000 panels of varying sizes in Austria and transported them 8,500 miles to organize them from a ‘fiber camp’ on-site.

Ten stadiums will be used during the FIFA World Cup 2010 but the new icon will host both the opening and the final matches.

The melting pot

The design of the stadium is based on the calabash or African pot, this being the most recognizable object to represent the African continent. Otherwise known as the ‘melting pot of cultures’, the design is being constructed on a raised podium, referred to as the ‘pit of fire’, to lend the appeal of the pot being fired. The fiery pit demarcates the security and turnstiles line separating the outer areas and the secure inner areas.

Uniquely South African

In September 2008, construction on the façade of the ‘pot’ began and the calabash has started taking its shape. The façade is made up of a selection of six colors and three textures that make reference to the shades and textures of the calabash. The panels are punctured by open or glazed panels that suggest pattern on the façade. This patterning will come into its own when the inside volumes are lit.

Cast in stone

The façade is articulated by ten vertical slots, which are aligned geographically with the nine other stadia involved in the 2010 World Cup, but since ‘nine’ symbolizes bad luck in African numerology, the tenth is aimed at the Berlin stadium, host of the previous World Cup final. This represents the road to the final and it is hoped that after the World Cup, each goal scored at Soccer City will be placed in pre-cast concrete panels on a podium so that the full history of the tournament’s scores can be seen for years to come.

From the horses’ mouth

Bob van Bebber of Boogertman + Partners, architectural firm on the stadium, said that initially much of the existing framework from FNB Stadium would be kept to keep soaring costs at bay. However, 7 070t of steel, 54 000 m² of roofing and ceiling membrane and 28 000 m² of concrete façade cladding are being used in the upgrade.

Attention to detail

Van Bebber says that the leading edge of the roof is a cantilever polycarbonate section, which provides additional coverage to the front leading edge of the seating, as more people sit underneath the roof. ‘The cladding to the pot went through various design changes for the material selections. We struggled for a long time to find something that was going to create the idea of a clay pot.’

The original idea for material on the cladding was to use aluminium, but the tenders that came back were too expensive, by pure chance the Soccer City team found a product which is an extruded concrete panel, made up of laminated concrete layers and fiber-glass reinforcing.

Project Director, Mike Moody and his capable team are confident that this design is truly innovative and will be an inspiring symbol of the camaraderie of 2010 and all it promises to be.

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2 Responses to “The African Pot Takes Shape”

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