The competition brief in 2006 stated that the new stadium was to have an iconic effect on the Durban municipality, creating a landmark that the city could truly be proud of. In contrast to the design of the Greenpoint Stadium which had to be specifically engineered to blend in with its natural surroundings and refrain from blocking existing panoramic views of the area, 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 structure and its main structural element as it provides the support for the cable net of the suspension roof structure. The roof geometry is based on an unusual architectural idea for the stadium mass. A series of radial T-bar clamps and tension cables are rigged from the compression ring along the stadium bowl and the arch to the inner edge of the roof and thus force the ring into an almond-like shape. The PTFE-coated roof membrane allows 50% of all sunlight to penetrate the surface whilst protecting the bowl from sunshine glare and rain.
The design idea for the facade was inspired by the image of a ‘loose weave’ layer over infills in the main column grid. Rising from level +04 and up to the compression ring, the see-through outer skin offers a lively picture of light and shadow as well as glimpses of the interior, both of which lend the stadium a light and airy feel. The facade was constructed of 104 precast concrete columns / hollow box steel columns. Around the building the skin changes in height and inclination from approx. 30m with a 90° incline to ca. 50m with a 60° incline. Extruded aluminium fins are fixed between the main columns. The second, infill facade layer consists of 58% perforated metal sheeting. This layered design is responsible for the homogeneous appearance of the facade all around the building and meets the required standards of protection against driving rain, strong winds and direct sunlight without losing the visual contact to the outside world.
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. Whilst the surrounding landscape may change over time, many sustainability factors were taken into account when it came to the construction process, in an effort to protect the environment to the greatest degree possible. 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 and Mthulisi Msimang who together formed the Joint Venture Architectural Team called 'Ibhola Lethu Consortium'. gmp International was involved in the competition and functional planning stages of the stadium