On being assigned the 2010 Soccer World Cup, South Africa has embarked on a sweeping modernisation and upgrading programme of her sports facilities to meet international regulations.
Located in Johannesburg, a city founded on mineral wealth and today also a financial hub, Soccer City Stadium lies in the district of Soweto, the black township that significantly became world famous during the civil rights struggle against apartheid. The stadium will host the opening ceremony of the championship, intermediary-round games and the final.
The architectural upgrade is the work of South African practice Boogertman Urban Edge + Partners in partnership with Populous and entailed partial demolition of some structures and the building of new facilities to ensure requisite international standards.
Seating capacity has been increased to 88,853. All spectators are ensured unimpeded views with regulation distances from the pitch guaranteed even for those in the highest tiers. The stadium is surrounded by ample parking areas. Access routes are disposed like spokes around a hub, making the renovated stadium a pivotal centrepiece.
The envelope encircling the entire structure takes its cue from the calabash, or african pot, a widely used natural container. Clayey, earthy colours give it the appearance of traditional pottery, a reference to the melting pot of African cultures this continent represents.
Reinforced concrete sections supporting the two tier levels and gallery are set at regular intervals around the bowl. The vertical circulation ramps are concealed behind the outer calabash, a sinuous mosaic of cement with reinforced glass fibre panels (FibreC by Rieder) in a range of eight different shades and two different textures. These are interspersed at irregular intervals by glass cut outs. A truss-supported roof surrounds the whole stadium.
The covered stand has also undergone upgrading. New offices and changing rooms have been added along with new electronic equipment.
Inside, facilities include a 300-place restaurant, four television studies for live broadcasts and a Football Museum: after the world cup, the scores will be immortalised and put on display.