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Mbombela Football & Rugby Stadium, Mpumulanga/Nelspruit, South Africa

Thursday 29 Sep 2011

Standing tall

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Award Entry

R&L Architects CC build stadium inspired by the colours and patterns of Africa 

This 45,000 seater stadium constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Football Tournament is in a rural region alongside the World Renowned Kruger Wild Life National Park. The area has bright flowering trees and flat topped pale green coloured thorn trees. Where cultivated, the orchards of oranges, pineapples, bananas and avocado pears are bright and colourful in the fruiting season.

Ndebele, Sotho, Swazi and Shangaan tribes inhabit the area. They produce highly coloured beaded ornamentation and brightly coloured shawls. The mud plastered cottages are painted in bright coloured geometrical murals. Whilst football supporters dress in elaborate head gear and colourful outfits and blow their loud and bright vuvuzelas.

The structure comprises poured in place concrete columns and beams, on a ten metre module, which in turn carry precast seating beams below and steel roof supporting pylons above. The thirteen by three metre columns were reduced in mass by creating four legs. The geometry of these columns together with the roof supporting steel pylons assumed the character of an animal, which with the addition of a triangular tubular head created a stylized giraffe. Eighteen of these giraffes carry both the upper tier seating and the cantilevered steel and polycarbonate roof, coloured light green to echo the surrounding thorn tree canopy.

When lesser matches are staged the attendance is a fraction of the stadium capacity and in order to "fill the space" - the seating is striped to resemble zebras thundering around the field. This effect together with the backdrop of bright colours enlivens the partly filled space. These primary painted colours that traditionally enrich the lives of the locals are echoed in both the structure, the details and the signage.

The colours are highlighted at night with general floodlighting. The only coloured lighting used are the red globes mounted on the giraffe horns providing a coronet to the structure visible from a considerable distance. This stadium differs from most others constructed for the tournament, as the structure, while sophisticated, retains an unmistakable African character.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
R&L Architects CC

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