International awards for SA stadium

28 September 2010

South Africa’s FNB Stadium, previously known as Soccer City, was a major hit with the fans during the 2010 Fifa World Cup. It’s also been racking up the design and construction awards, most recently being named the overall winner at the prestigious international Leaf Awards.

The Leaf Awards, now into their seventh year, “honour the architects designing the buildings and solutions that are setting the benchmark for the international architectural community,” according to the Leaf website.

FNB Stadium, which also won in the best public building category, beat stiff competition for the overall prize from the finalists in the nine categories, including the amazing Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

‘A wonderful, exuberant design’

The stadium, resembling a massive calabash, rises from the ground at Nasrec, Johannesburg, its rounded multi-coloured shape outflanking the surrounding mine dumps and providing an imposing backdrop for the city’s skyscrapers.

The three-tier stadium soars 60 metres into the air and stretches across 300 metres, a concrete and steel masterpiece. At night, with the lights shining through the clear shapes of the calabash sides, it takes on an ethereal quality.

“A wonderful, exuberant design that seems almost uncannily to represent the continent in which it is constructed, the judges felt this would be an iconic building for Africa for years to come,” the judges said on the website.

“The already world-famous project was chosen for its outstanding design and integral practical solutions. The judges and international architectural community was captivated by the excellence of the project.”

‘Brings human scale to a monumental building’

The awards ceremony took place in London in early September, and the judges were unequivocal in their choice. “The architecture of Soccer City integrates the urban context of Johannesburg, its society, the historical mining industry of South Africa, and African culture as a whole. The facade design finished in shades of brown brings human scale to a monumental building, giving it instant appeal, warmth and accessibility.”

Architect Bob van Bebber, whose design for the stadium was chosen four years ago, said his firm, Boogertman Urban Edge & Partners, had hoped to win one category, so were especially pleased to take the overall prize as well.

The stadium, which cost R3.3-billion to build, accommodates close to 90 000 spectators. Seven 2010 Fifa World Cup games were played at the venue, including the opening and final. It was filled to capacity every time.

Van Bebber said he felt satisfied with the stadium’s performance. “We achieved what we had set out to do, that is, to create an atmosphere for the people to enjoy the spectacle.”

World football’s governing body, Fifa, described the stadium as “one of the most artistic and awe-inspiring football venues on the African continent”.

Other awards

The FNB Stadium has also picked up a range of local awards this year: the VISI award for the Best Designers in South Africa; the 42nd Sapoa Convention and Property Exhibition award in the category stadia; and the award for Innovative Excellence in Property Development.

Although the stadium wasn’t quite finished in 2009, it received three awards last year: the Fulton Award for the Best Building Project – Concrete in Architecture; the Fulton Award for Commendation for Unique Design Aspects; and the SA Institute for Steel Construction Award.

And it has been shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival awards, to be announced in early November.

Boogertman Urban Edge & Partners was ranked first in South Africa and Africa and 63rd in the world for 2008, according to World Architecture Magazine.

Source: City of Johannesburg