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By Bev Hermanson

3> Photo by Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town.

Of all the stadiums that were prepared for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, only three have been entirely new constructions. One of these is the Cape Town Stadium situated close to the popular V&A Waterfront along the shoreline of Table Bay, within full view of Cape Town’s most famous landmark, Table Mountain.

One of the largest construction projects to have been tackled by the City of Cape Town, the Cape Town Stadium and the surrounding parkland have been completed at a cost of R4,5-billion. Along with its parking area and a retail plaza, the stadium covers an area of 18 hectares, equivalent to six city blocks. Built to be more than merely a soccer stadium, this development has been designed as a multi-purpose venue that is equipped to host rugby matches, music concerts and many other major events as well. Its successful completion involved a large taskforce of professionals comprising


15 different disciplines and 51 firms and a joint venture of 2 of the largest contracting firms in the country.

Green Point as a sports precinct Since before the Anglo Boer War in the late 1800s, the Green Point Common has been home to a variety of sports clubs, including Hamiltons, South Africa’s oldest rugby club that was founded in 1875, and the Green Point Cricket Club that started in 1897. Declared a public open space for recreation and sport by Britain’s King George V in 1923, this valuable piece of ground has been staunchly protected from the threat of over commercialisation and expansion around the Mother City. The Green Point Stadium, built on the Common in the 1940s, was rather controversial, as, with a capacity of

only 18 000 seats, many saw it as a ‘white elephant’ that was under-utilised. Over the years, it was used for various events, including small scale concerts and sports events. It was additionally home to the Santos and Hellenic Soccer Clubs and later the Ajax Football Club. At the time that the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup was awarded to South Africa, the planning committee determined that the stadium in Cape Town was going to need close to 70 000 seats to qualify to host at least one of the semi-final matches there. Under the circumstances, they decided it would be easier to build an entirely new stadium close to the old stadium, rather than try to upgrade the old fossil facilities. The old Green Point Stadium has since been partially demolished and has been converted into a dedicated stadium for athletics.

Sutherland, City of Cape Town.

Stadium. Photos by Bruce

construction on the Cape Town

The various phases of


To refer to Cape Town’s stadium as the Green Point Stadium is, therefore, a complete misnomer, as the land allocated for the construction of the new stadium was land that had been used by the Metropolitan Golf Club for its nine hole golf course. To compensate the Mets and other sporting disciplines using the Common, the entire area has been reorganised. A new nine hole golf course has been built and 12,5 hectares have been converted into an urban park that boasts walking, cycling and jogging tracks, that weave around beautiful water features and landscaped gardens. Other facilities in the precinct include a Health & Fitness Club, tennis courts, hockey and rugby fields and a cricket oval. A tree-lined pedestrian walkway further connects the Mouille Point lighthouse with Somerset Road on the outskirts of the city. In total, this encompasses an area

Within a stone’s throw of the new stadium, the 123

of some 65 hectares of parkland and sports facilities.

firms, Louis Karol Architects and Point Architects, the

hectare V&A Waterfront offers visitors a wealth of pleasure pursuits – from a ferry trip to the historical Robben Eiland, where the well known freedom fighter and past president of the country, Nelson Mandela, was incarcerated, to a sumptuous array of restaurants, luxury hotels, stores and other leisure pursuits.

The new stadium The state-of-the-art Cape Town Stadium will host five of the first round matches, one second round match, one quarter final and one semi-final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer matches. Designed by concept architects, gmp Architects of Germany, in conjunction with local


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Often copied but Never Surpassed

Photos by Rodger Bosch,


stadium covers an area of 290m x 260m and stands

Commanding a significant chunk of the construction

50m at its highest point.

budget, the roof has been designed as a saddleback curve with a double membrane. Its smooth flowing

The most amazing aspect of the stadium is the hightech roof that covers 38 000 square metres, protecting the bulk of the spectators from the often inclement Cape weather. Knowing the ‘Cape Doctor’, the harsh south-easter wind that occasionally thrashes the Foreshore and the Green Point Common at gale force, a substantial roof was definitely on the city’s wish list. The double whammy of this design is that it not only

appearance from all angles contributes to making this stadium one of the most distinctive in the country. Weighing in the region of 3 735 tons, the roof structure, that rests on a total of 72 columns, comprises an outer ‘compression ring’ which is linked to an inner ‘tension ring’ by a system of trusses and cables. The inner tension ring houses the lights and acoustic equipment.

protects the spectators from harsh weather condi-

The top layer of the roof is made of around 9 000 panels

tions, it reduces the noise emanating from the stadium

of laminated safety glass to allow in plenty of natural

– which will be most welcome to the Green Point and

light, while the bottom layer is made up of woven

Sea Point residents that do not relish hearing the

PVC ceiling panels that absorbs sound, while protecting

vuvuzelas at full blast throughout the matches.

the equipment from below.


Facilities Although the seating capacity for the duration of the World Cup will accommodate 68 000 spectators, after the end of the tournament, 13 000 seats will be removed, leaving 55 000 permanent seats. To channel the large crowds, 59 main gates lead to 115 turnstiles positioned around the 745 metre perimeter. Conveniences include 530 toilets and 360 urinals. There are four TV studios, 24 media desks and 178 media seats, as well as a medical centre and a police station. To cater for the movement of the impaired, there are 16 lifts and 120 places for spectators in wheelchairs.

Joint effort Within the time frame of the project, the design team spent a year in the preparation phase before the construction team eventually broke ground in February 2007. However, time was extremely limited, considering the enormity of the project, and therefore there was a call for tenders from multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that everything would be completed on time.

and Rodger Bosch (right),

Photos by Bev Mitchell (left)

Photo by BKS.

“The size of the facility is phenomenal,” says Bev Mitchell of project manager, Mitchell du Plessis Associates (MDA). “The roof is column-free and the seating is positioned in such a way that spectators can see all

four corners of the playing area without having to stand or jump. Even when they leave their seats to buy food, there are still opportunities to see the game while standing in the queues. To complement the action on the field, two giant TV screens have been mounted above the seating area – excellent for action replays and close-ups of the action.”

10 > “During the tender process, MDA put two teams together and entered two different tenders, which came in first and second. After lengthy deliberations, it was decided that both teams should be appointed. MDA was the common denominator, so the two teams were co-ordinated from the MDA offices. We put together a joint venture of four project management firms – ourselves, BKS, Ariya Project Managers and Ngonyama Okpanum Associates. Overall, we ended up with over 51 firms involved on the professional team, representing 15 disciplines. That was the only way we could see ourselves being able to hand the stadium over by the end of 2009, the specified deadline.”

rates and materials costs were a lot higher,” Mitchell elaborates. “Fortunately, we managed to negotiate a slightly higher budget as a compromise and we were able to come in below that, in the end.”

The first costings came out 20 – 30 % over the budget, requiring significant design refinements in order to shrink the costs. “Trying to adjust the costs was a nightmare as the World was going through a recession and our local construction industry was flying, so the labour

The revamped Green Point Common is very much a people place and to fall in line with the natural and human aspects of its environment, the Cape Town Stadium needed to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Part of the challenge was to reduce traffic

With the help of gmp, the German architects, the design team managed to conceptualise a structure that adds to the beauty of Cape Town. Standing proudly within the parklike surroundings, its form is certainly distinctive and somewhat sculptural.


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Photos by Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town.

congestion in order to reduce the stadium’s carbon footprint.

A building management system has been incorporated. This monitors energy usage and lights can be switched off and air-conditioning adjusted in rooms that are un-

“Fortunately, the Central Business District of Cape Town is within walking distance and an Integrated Rapid Transit system is also available to transport spectators from the parkades and open parking areas within the city to the stadium. There are only VIP parking facilities allocated within the stadium grounds – these will accommodate up to 3 000 vehicles.” Further environmentally conscious initiatives included water management and energy conservation and recycling wherever possible. “When the Green Point Stadium was partially demolished, 95% of the components were incorporated in the new stadium as part of a recycling project,” Mitchell continues. “Water and energy savings were also a priority.”

occupied. Compact fluorescent lamps have been used in most areas and to reduce the need for airconditioning, the outer cladding of the stadium allows air to circulate. Water from the roof is channelled into storage tanks and as much grey water is recycled as possible. Much of it is used to fill ponds on the Green Point Common as well as for irrigation of the gardens. Furthermore, neither the Common, with its urban park, nor the stadium, relies on the City of Cape Town’s water supply for drinking water. This is sourced from the Oranjezicht Natural Springs located a mere four kilometres away.

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Photos by Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town.

Sustainability, of course, does not only extend to natural resources. At peaks times, there were up to 2 500 people employed on site. Amongst these, around 1 200 artisans received training during the construction period, which will hopefully equip them to find further employment in the future.

The stadium is to be managed by a consortium consisting of the South African sports marketing company, SAIL, and Stade de France, operators of a major multipurpose venue in Paris. <

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Cape Town Stadium Special Report  

Of all the stadiums that were prepared for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, only three have been entirely new constructions. One of these is...

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