Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium by
GMP Architekten


Here's one of three stadiums designed by German studio GMP Architekten for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that begins in South Africa next week.

Called Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and situated in Port Elizabeth, the stadium is made up of a series of curved girders with an alternately opaque and perforated canopy stretched between them.

Sitting on a raised podium, a two-storey colonnaded gallery runs around the entire stadium.

The design of the stadium is tailored to local conditions and is intended to provide necessary protection from the sun and strong winds.

The 46,000 capacity stadium sits in the middle of a park at the heart of the city and overlooks a lake.

More 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums:

Soccer City by Boogertman Urban Edge + Partners and Populous.

Photographs are © Marcus Bredt.

Here's some more information from the architects:

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Port Elizabeth, one of South Africa’s largest cities, is located in Algoa Bay (Indian Ocean) in Eastern Cape Province, and is now part of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The third largest port in the country is economically dominated by its role as the principal center of the South African motor industry.

In addition, “P. E.” attracts numerous visitors from home and abroad with its extensive range of water sports, all-year-round temperate climate and proximity to important national parks. With its selection as a venue for the 2010 World Cup, a new World Cup-quality stadium was needed.

The quarterfinals stadium, with a crowd capacity of 46,000, is the largest venue space in P.E., and was conceived as a distinctive, new iconic landmark for the “Windy City”, as it is known.

The stadium is situated close to the center with good transport links, in the direct vicinity of North End Lake, a hitherto neglected part of the city with otherwise poor infrastructure.

Lying between the sea and the lake with enormous development potential, it was a location ripe for the sports park scheme that has been developed.

Apart from hosting football and rugby matches, it offers a variety of opportunities for water sports and cycling. As a leisure centre, it has a unique environmental quality and multifunctional capacity the city has hitherto lacked.

As a freestanding building, the stadium is situated on a raised podium in direct proximity to the lake, in the middle of the gently moving topography of the park. The stadium springs like a flower from the ground, offering a unique image with its reflection in the water.

Its silhouette is notable for the curves of the roof girders and clear configuration of the concrete primary structure below, which forms a two-storey colonnaded gallery. This runs round the entire stadium, and is open to anyone visiting the park on non-match-days.

The glazed suite level marks the horizontal termination of the colonnades on which the roof girders rest, their tips running down to floor level in the lounges. From here they unfurl upwards like leaves, towards the middle of the stadium.

The geometry of the roof is tailored to local conditions, and protects the crowd not only from the sun but particularly from the frequent strong winds.

The distinctive design of the roof results from the alternating arrangement of clad girders and areas of membrane stretched between them.An external top chord with an elevated ridge was used to give the girders a more dramatic look.

The PTFE-membrane zones in the intermediate fields are divided into two zones by a valley cable, producing an alternating pattern of rib shapes and hollows that is reinforced by the alternation of materials.

The aluminum cladding of the triple parabolic girders is perforated in the lower area, giving varying degrees of transparency so as to allow VIPs and circulation areas a spectacular view of the park, lake and sea while still providing the necessary sun screening.

The clear articulation of the exposed roof trusses is obvious from the inside. The alternation between opaque and translucent roof coverings produces an interesting interplay of light and shadow in the interior.

During the day, the membrane areas provide natural illumination beneath the roof. In order to soften the lines of shadow on the pitch, the translucent part of the roof membrane was maximized towards the inner edge of the roof.

On the inner edge of the roof, an encircling edge beam links the tips of the girders to form a platform for the technical equipment. Here, maintenance access, floodlighting and installations are located above the roof membrane and so are not in direct line of view from below.

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The installations for the stands are thus reduced to acoustic and surveillance equipment and integrated into the roof structure. The inner roof termination features as a sharp edge.

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The two-tier stadium has a deep lower tier rising in a gentle parabola. At mid-height, it has openings leading directly to the external gallery. Inner circulation routes provide visitors with easy access to all service areas and somewhere to stretch their legs. The upper tier above the box level with the corporate entertainment gallery is divided into two zones, so as to allow flexible subsequent use of the intermediate floor thus created at upper gallery level.

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This will be used for event space of varying sizes while also providing a number of extra boxes, needed particularly for rugby matches. These rooms have fully glazed fronts facing the pitch, while the perforation of the roof covering offers magnificent views and good environmental quality.

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The remaining rows of the upper tier are accessed diagonally by wide stairways. Whereas the geometrical simplicity of the primary structure radiates calm clarity, the rounded stands of the arena offer optimal views of the pitch and guarantee a highly charged atmosphere.

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The design fulfills all functional, technical and climatic conditions, but at the same time takes cultural aspects into account. Typical building materials that are available or used locally are reinterpreted in the color schemes and materials used.

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The dark red of the brick paving used for the access areas of the park and round the stadium is continued in the various shades of red of the seating inside and the polychrome slate floors of the VIP areas. During the day, the white roof rests on the fairfaced concrete of the primary structure like a lightweight garland of petals, while at night, with its large backlit membrane areas, it looks like a huge storm lamp.

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The façade enclosing the colonnaded gallery at the side of the stadium forms the backdrop to this vision, providing a symbolic reference to the man whose name adorns the stadium and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. With a graphic use of sayings by Nelson Mandela, the gallery (it is over 700m long) is interpreted as a “long walk” in the sense of sporting ambition and Fair Play among equals.

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The construction of the Nelson Mandela Bay Arena has given Port Elizabeth a high-quality sports facility that will revitalize a whole section of the city. That increases the chances that the stadium will be optimally utilized after the World Cup as well.

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All the press and office areas of the arena can for example be converted to facilities for sports and leisure use and voluntary work, while the area between the stadium and the water can be used for lakeside relaxation.

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A new cycle path round the stadium and lake rounds off the leisure facilities in the sports park, so that the district around Prince Alfred Park will attract visitors day in, day out as a place welcoming public space.

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See also:


Soccer City for
2010 FIFA World Cup
London 2012 Olympics stadium by HOK Sport Dalian Football Stadium
by UNStudio

Posted on Friday June 4th 2010 at 2:01 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • ste

    is it me or does this thing looks 90ies?

  • Wow the stadium looks great, love the geometry and shape of it and how it fits in with the natural surroundings, can’t wait for the start of the World Cup!!

  • Diego

    No, I think it’s you thats stuck in 90ies!

  • angry catalan

    It doesn't look 90s if you look at it from far away – it looks 50s, which is not a bad thing. The interior spaces also look 50s, but when you look at the roof structure from the seats then it does look from the late 80s-early 90s – I think the structure could've been much more expressive than this. But it's a fine stadium, especially since some truly appalling ones have been built in the last 20 years.

  • fred

    Honestly doesn’t matter if it is a stadium or an office building…the true is all GMP building looks the same, same details, same shapes, same handrails, same s….

  • South Africa’s granduar in designs are shown by these maginficent stadium. Wow I would love to watch the evnt on these ground.

  • Ross

    This is our Local stadium in P.E. and I’ve been to some games there already. Its is truly brilliant. Pity it had to be designed by a German firm, as I feel that our local agencies could have done an equal if not better job.
    However let me not discount it in anyway it is truly awesome. This stadium has changed not only the face of PE but the mood of all the residents too.

    Viva Bafana Viva!

  • ndumiso

    All the new stadiums look good, especially if you take a few things into consideration.They even look better than some european stadiums e.g goodison park,villa park, or the hawthorns.