Real Revelation: Madrid’s New Soccer Stadium

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(Image courtesy L35 / GMP Architekten / Ribas & Ribas / Real Madrid CF)

Spanish soccer franchise Real Madrid has revealed plans for a drastic reshaping of its iconic Santiago Bernabeau stadium. The plan entails sheathing the existing structure in a curvaceous titanium facade that will also add a hotel, a shopping and leisure center, and an underground car park. The new skin also adds a retractable roof to the stadium.

German firm GMP Architekten will be heading the project joined by locals L35 Architects and, in a crossing of party-lines, Barcelona-based Ribas & Ribas. The lines of the exterior are meant to respond to shifting sunlight patterns by day and play host to LED light displays by night. One amorphous face will act as a screen for large-scale media projections. The innermost portion of the new roof will be translucent, allowing natural light to filter onto the playing surface and past the 360° screen that hangs directly beneath The included hotel is set to feature rooms offering direct views of the pitch.

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(Image courtesy L35 / GMP Architekten / Ribas & Ribas / Real Madrid CF)

L35 managing partner Tristán López-Chicheri claims that the club’s history of recruiting costly star players acted as an inspiration for the new design: “the idea of excellence was another strong inspiration. The ‘galactic heroes’ of real madrid made us think of a polished gemstone, a magic skin with a changing light and color hues that actually protects a treasure.” The assignment necessitates that construction not interfere with play, and despite its relatively high-tech qualities and irregular forms, large sections of the new structure can be shop-assembled offsite.

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(Image courtesy L35 / GMP Architekten / Ribas & Ribas / Real Madrid CF)

GMP Architekten have extensive experience with projects of this nature, having already designed three stadiums for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and two structures for this summer’s Brazilian iteration of the tournament. A completion date has been tentatively set for 2017 with a $537 million price tag slapped on the project. How a club supposedly saddled with almost $800 million in debt can afford such an expense is unclear, though their current financial straits have done little to curb the recruitment of evermore expensive galactic heroes (galacticos) that might serve as future inspiration for another multimillion dollar renovation. In the spirit of competition, Madrid’s presentation comes in the wake of Barcelona’s announcement for costly, though more stylistically modest, updates to their own stadium, a Nou-er Camp, if you will.

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