Sporting Charleroi translucent roof venue


Sporting Charleroi secures building permission Image: Mariotti & Associés

The Belgian professional football club Royal Charleroi S.C. has got the go-ahead to build their new home venue – the ZebrArena in Hainaut, Belgium.

‘Mariotti & Associés’ stated that the complex will be built at Marchienne-au-Pont (a town in the Walloon region of Belgium) on an industrial wasteland that was formerly used for steelworks and mining projects. The multifunctional stadium was among the proposals disclosed by the City of Charleroi, with the club previously emphasizing the need for a new home when it launched its ‘Horizon 2024’ vision.

The Royal Charleroi Sporting Club, often simply known as the Charleroi or Sporting Charleroi, is a Belgian professional football club based in the City of Charleroi, in the province of Hainaut (Belgium). It plays in the Belgian Pro League, the top league competition for association football clubs in Belgium.

The 15,000-capacity Stade du Pays de Charleroi is a football stadium in the City of Charleroi, Belgium. It was built for the 2000 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands as a replacement for the old stadium known as Mambourg. It serves as the residence of the Royal Charleroi Sporting Club.

Sporting Charleroi secures building permissionImage: Mariotti & Associés

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, as well as some Asian countries such as Israel, Cyprus and Armenia. The UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Since 2022, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

The Royal Charleroi Sporting Club’s (RCSC) new stadium is being called ZebrArena, a working name that references the club’s nickname ‘The Zebras’. The project is collaboration between the architectural firms Carré 7 and the French architectural firm Mariotti & Associés. The stadium is expected to be completed in 2026 and will have a capacity of 20,219. It will be located at the ‘AMS Nord’ site, rue de Mons, 6030 Marchienne-au-Pont, Belgium. The stadium will be able to host large concerts even during adverse weather conditions.

La Louvière (Belgium)-based Carré 7 is an architecture and interior design studio that started operations in the year 1989.

‘Mariotti & Associés’ further stated that the site on which the above venue will come up is a ‘no man’s land’ and once the stadium goes on stream the area will become accessible to the community skirting the arena.

Sporting Charleroi secures building permissionImage: Mariotti & Associés

It will be a multiuse arena which will host numerous events like matches, congresses, concerts, etc., and will be a UEFA Category 4 stadium.

The stadium has been lent an ‘English-style’ design with two flights of stands separated by an ambulatory forming the intermediate ring. The intermediate space between the steel envelope and the stands will serve the purpose of a balcony and will provide a sweeping view of the surrounding landscape. The venue’s perforated envelope will work as a ‘filter’ between the stadium and the City. The stadium will come armed with a detached roof, a sort of umbrella which allows ample air circulation within the enclosure, in order to facilitate the holding of concerts throughout the year. The stadium will comprise three layers – the base, its cladding and its crowning glory – the roof per se.

‘European First’

‘SOCCERSCENE’ stated that there has been a yawning delay in starting the project due to COVID-19 but the club is hoping to move into its new home in time for the 2026-2027 seasons. The facility promises to be a European first with its translucent roof.

Cyril Rousseaux, Managing Architect at Carré 7, spoke on the design and functions the new stadium will boast, “The innovative roof will make the ZebrArena unique in Europe, the stands and the pitch will be protected from wind, rain and snow. The ZebrArena will be able to host large concerts without the organizer having to worry about the bad weather. In the event of heavy rain, there will be no question of cancellation and that is a huge advantage. We created an English-style stadium with four closed corners and stands very close to the playing area to allow supporters to enjoy an up close experience with the players, as if they are in the thick of the action.”

Sporting Charleroi secures building permissionImage: Mariotti & Associés

‘SOCCERSCENE’ further stated that while the building permission has been secured, development on the stadium is not scheduled to begin until 2025 since decontamination work on the site is underway. The ZebrArena price tag is expected to stand at little more than $76.6 million, with the Royal Charleroi Sporting Club and the private investors picking up the entire tab.

The Royal Charleroi Sporting Club has played in the Stade du Pays de Charleroi since 1939, and the stadium had been extensively renovated to serve as a host site during Belgium’s co-hosting of the UEFA EURO 2000 with Netherlands. Its capacity for the event was 30,000, however, that has now been reduced to 15,000.

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