Soccer stadiums still preserve the symbolic character of those places of cult that once attracted swarms of pilgrims, but today there is an added goal, that of increasing their profitability with additional uses, which often alters the iconic character of these arenas. At St. Jakob Stadium in Basel – the first of a series of mixed use promotions going up in Berne, Geneva, St. Gallen and Zurich – the aim was to define a distinctive image that the citizens could easily associate with the sports events beyond the remaining complementary activities.
The architects were to elaborate on a given program (both the volumetric expansion and the commercially usable areas were determined by the general contractor) that included the parking area and a shopping center below the field and a residence for senior citizens with 110 apartments located on a nine-story linear block that protects as a shield the main facade of the unit. Taking the British models as points of reference, the stadium is set out as a great introverted space, that relinquishes all contact with its surroundings to focus all its attention on the spectators of the competition. As an open ceiling in the middle, the roof contributes to the definition of this interior with a perforated sheeting that reflects everything that goes on in the field and stands, multiplying the brightness and color of the spectacle. The facade of the linear block towards the field is perforated with windows that trace the word BASEL with a slightly distorted line, as a great support signpost for the local team.
But it is the shell that gives the stadium its unmistakable identity as a place for gathering and celebration. A continuous enclosure of convex pieces of translucent plastic wraps the facades and roof, turning the arena into a volume that shines at night with the pulse of a live and well-irrigated volume. The intense red tone with which the extrados of the upper stand was painted transcends in this way to the exterior through the plastic bubbles when it is illuminated by powerful spotlights, so accomplishing the desired contrast with the green of the lawn and the blue plastic seats that draw the name of the team on the stand. Canopies of the same blue tone establish a chromatic continuity with the senior citizen residence block, the other visible piece of the complex, where the rounded contour of the plastic domes is replaced by the angular edges of haphazardly perforated concrete panels that act as horizontal parapets of the terraces.[+]
Miteigentümergesellschaft (MEG) Winterthur Lebensversicherungs Gesellschaft / SUVA Luzern / Pensionskasse des Basler Staatspersonals
Herzog & de Meuron Project Team
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Christine Binswanger (Partner in Charge).
Project Team: Stefan Marbach (Associate, Project Architect), Richard Wickli (Project Architect). Osman Askari, Dieter Dietz, Andreas Fries, Lukas Huggenberger, Susanne Kleinlein, Angelika Krestas, Lukas Kupfer, Sebastian Massmann, Hans-Ulrich Matter, Ivo Sollberger, Wolfgang Hardt, Konstantin Karagiannis.
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron; Landscape Design: Fahrni und Breitenfeld, Aegerter & Bosshardt; Electrical Engineering: Graf & Reber AG, Hefti, Hess, Martignoni; HVAC Engineering: Gruneko AG, Gähler & Partner AG; Plumbing Engineering: Bogenschütz AG, Sanplan Ingenieure; Structural Engineering: Rothpletz / Lienhard; Additional Services Consultant: Haskoll & Company; Artist Collaboration: Rémy Zaugg (color concept), Michèle Zaugg-Röthlisberger (letter seating).
Lighting Consultant: Delux Theater Lighting; Guidance System: New Identity Ltd.
General Contractor: Marazzi Generalunternehmung AG.
Hisao Suzuki; Justo Isasi; Ruedi Walti; Herzog & de Meuron; Peter Ruggle