Suprastadio: A radical stadium design concept straight from Germany
Stadium designing has come of age. While the broad framework of an arena have remained the same over the years, every now and then a radical idea finds its way out – something a little bit special, a little bit different is thought up.
‘Suprastadio’ aptly fits into that description. Interpol, the German architectural firm is the warhorse behind this imaginative new design concept. Suprastadio is the name given to a unique stadium design to seat spectators that is more compact and efficient. With a little play of new shapes and lot of mathematics and geometry, the revolutionary Suprastadio design closely resembles that of a vast wave, wrapping the field of play and bringing spectators closer to the pitch.
Through the years
The ancient Greeks set into motion the history of stadia when they became the first to create an amphitheatre. This was born out of necessity of the time. To create a comfortable gathering space for their great polemic tragedies and of course their famous comedies, the Greeks began building amphitheatres. The Greeks, by the way, also came up with the concept of hippodromes where they would race horses.
Both the concepts were merged by the imperious Romans, who eventually took a step further by building their stadia more rounded. Essentially they put two amphitheatres together to create the world’s first stadium or coliseum so to speak.
Ever since the advent of round stadia, designers and engineers have always battled with how to get a lot of people into a stadium without compromising the viewing ability of the spectators. Bad viewing angles and physical obstructions such as supporting columns for the roof are largely a thing of the past for modern stadia. However that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a spectator sitting near the back of the stand will get a satisfactory view as someone sitting close to the field of play.
From the eyes of fans
Given a chance, a spectator would always prefer to be as close to the action as possible. This is essentially due the fan’s desire to see the action unfold from close quarters and follow the nitty-gritty of the game deeply. This is exactly the reason why the tickets have a certain pricing structure – seats closer to the action cost more and logically therefore, seats further away cost less.
Fans often rush to try and buy the best seats possible because nobody wants to be seated in ‘Row Z’, squinting frantically for a better view. There is nothing worse than waiting to buy tickets to an important game and then finding out that the only tickets available are at the very back of the stadium.
“With the Suprastadio design, the distance from the terraces to the pitch has been cut drastically, so much so that the seats at the very top may be just as sought after as the seats lower down.” Said Mathias Müller-Using, Managing Partner Interpol Architecture.
He added, “Previously the maximum distance for a spectator from the pitch was 72 metres (in a 50,000-seater venue), with Suprastadio however, that figure has now fallen to just 51 meters, this means that just three per cent of spectators are now sitting further away than 50 metres.”
The new design will improve stadium acoustics as the natural arch of the stand lends itself to enhancing and ‘trapping’ the sound within the stadium. This means that from a fans perspective, the noise levels will be more intense and thus add to the atmosphere within the ground, enhancing the game experience for fans.
Should this concept come to life, the big winner from all this will be the fans and the players. They are the ones, after all, who give life to the stadia.
The players’ perspective
From the players perspective the benefits should be immediate, the 12th man effect will be even more pronounced as the visiting team will literally feel the fans hovering over them and intimidating them with their support. Certain stadia have developed nick-names such as ‘Fortress Twickenham’ due to their intimidating atmosphere and this does have a psychological impact on the way teams perform.
The sound of stadium
Sound is a key element of the stadium experience. In football for example, the acoustics play a very important role as they create a unique sound only found in the stadium experience. Then there is the noise factor which will not ‘leak’ out of the stadium as the Suprastadio design ensures that the noise is ‘trapped’ inside, thereby only adding to a great atmosphere of chants and music.
“In the planned design and engineering of Suprastadio, acoustics are not only conducive to communication between the fans in the different tiers but also to the interaction between the fans and the teams. The openings between the upper tiers that are inherent to the system of Suprastadio allow for good acoustic coupling – and the transfer of the fans’ mood between the tiers. Thanks to the reflections along the vaulted roof, the sound is transferred nicely from tier to tier,” explained Mathias Müller-Using, Managing Partner Interpol Architecture.
Since, as a general rule the direct sound level decreases fairly considerably with increasing distance, the transfer of the mood wanes significantly the further back the seats are. Therefore having the fans much closer to the sidelines in the Suprastadio compared to other stadia is a significant advantage.
Here the direct sound can surge over the pitch without any obstacles. In addition, the sound reflections spread to about the centre of the pitch and help transmit the fans’ mood. Sound reflections are directed towards the playing field also via the undersides of the upper tiers and their cantilevers. The vertically staggered arrangement of the upper tiers enhances this acoustic design both in the spectator area and in the entire stadium. Thousands of fans thus turn into an impressive acoustic wave of fan noise that surges onto the pitch without any obstacles and from a close distance.
The overall size of the stadium is also a lot smaller which means it’s perfect for any city authority that may contemplate building a stadium in a confined plot space.
Suprastadio design requires less ground space for building. By staggering the spectator tiers from about the middle of the spectator rows on back towards the pitch, less space is needed compared to conventional grandstands. Due to the economy of space, the grandstand system is ideal for inner city areas.
There exists no such thing as a bad seat in the Suprastadio. Spectators can watch the game from a newly gained proximity. The Suprastadio ensures a significantly better and more ‘direct’ view as the distance to the playing field is now reduced for half of all spectators, and almost cut in two for the rows all the way in the back.
Bird’s eye view
All spectators have an optimum, clear view of all the action below. The fact that the upper tiers are staggered forward, in combination with the increasing height of the structure, makes the viewing angle ever steeper so that it becomes more and more of a top view (bird’s eye view) of the action – contrary to conventional stadia, where a match is mostly seen from a side angle. It is an entirely new angle on the game – normally only captured by cameras in modern broadcast coverage.
The newly gained views are complemented by a closed soundscape, offering new opportunities for interaction between spectator tiers and the teams on the field. An impressive human wall created by thousands of fans can surge unhindered and at close range to the game. Spatial proximity and intensity of mood transform the stadium into a seething cauldron.
The Suprastadio is a new design concept and the many positive effects for players and fans alike will only increase enjoyment on match days. Imagine being a child taken to his/hers first ever football match inside a Suprastadio, this will leave an impression that will stay with him/her forever.
Not only can the Suprastadio be a permanent structure within a city but can also be temporary, with its modular design, making this a super clever and super versatile building for a variety of clients. Suprastadio is poised to create new generation of stadia that are markedly different from anything that has come before.
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Published: November 12, 2018
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