The Soccer City Stadium

The Soccer City Stadium

Boogertman + Partners Architects
Johannesburg, South Africa
Project Year
Stories By
Rieder Sales GmbH

Boogertman + Partners Architects

The Soccer City Stadium

Rieder Sales GmbH as Manufacturers

A Sustainable Stadium with fibreC Cladding

The icon of the FIFA World Cup 2010 – the Soccer City Stadium - hosted the opening and the final matches. The Austrian company Rieder Smart Elements made a significant contribution to the construction of the world cup stadium in Africa by realising the glassfibre reinforced concrete façade in native African colours. The fibreC cladding promotes the Soccer City Stadium’s eco-responsible construction by using less material and extending building life.

The event was intended to represent the flair and culture of the African continent. Nothing does it better than the football stadium itself, designed by the South African architecture bureau Boogertman Urban Edge & Partners. The outer skin of the stadium, realised with glassfibre concrete, refers to the calabash, a traditional African drinking vessel. In line with the architects’ wishes, the calabash-shaped shell owes its beauty and authentic colours to panelling produced by Rieder Smart Elements, the manufacturer of fibreC, a natural cladding that features glassfibre concrete.

The sustainably built, newly redesigned stadium features fibreC concrete, which reduce the weight and thickness of the concrete needed by 10 times compared to conventional panels; enhance building life and durability with their resistance to corrosion, fire, and UV light and temperature variations; and are 100 percent recyclable.

The stadium’s impressive envelope is divided into a roof section, consisting of transparent polycarbonate elements, and a façade covered in fibreC glassfibre concrete. Most fibreC panels measures 1.2 x 1.8 m and is only 13 mm thick. The shell includes more than 2100 modules, each composed of 16 fibreC panels. The modules were assembled in a field factory on site. Rieder Smart Elements’ fibreC panels withstand all weather conditions, conform to the strictest fire-protection requirements and excel in durability.

The excellent eco-profile of fibreC panels indicates a global-warming potential that is 40 per cent lower than that of fibre-cement cladding or aluminium panelling. The use of high pressure laminates (HPLs) would require five times more energy than fibreC, which is listed in the GreenSpec Directory as an environmentally preferable product.

Holistic vision scored the contract Rieder secured the commission from the architects of the soccer stadium, not only for its economic and holistic strategy, but also with its creative vision and sustainable product. In addition to its technical and aesthetic solution, the application of fibreC to the facade surpassed other international bidders with its eco-friendly qualities. fibreC is a concrete panel, reinforced with glassfibres, which enables the efficient construction of aesthetically impressive and sustainable building projects. Using authentic colours, fibreC complemented the architectural brief of creating a living surface for the soccer stadium.

Rieder set to reach World Cup 2010 final The fibreC Group is a family-owned company with headquarters in Austria that offers bespoke solutions for world-class architectural projects. Two years ago the company supplied the concrete envelope of the Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion, designed by Zaha Hadid for the Expo 2008 in Spain – which focused on water and sustainable development. Rieder has over 50 years experience as a leading specialist in providing effective solutions for the use of concrete as a building material. Now, it is contributing its expertise to the biggest stadium in Africa, with a capacity for almost 97.000 spectators in its World Cup 2010 final.

Architect Statement

Boogertman + Partners Architects as Architects


The site of Soccer City, previously known as FNB stadium and the traditional home of South African football, is directly north of the newly built Nasrec Transportation Hub and pedestrian promenade, linking the stadium to the redeveloped Johannesburg Expo Centre to the south. The transportation hub accommodates taxis, buses, rapid transit services and metro rail, thus providing good public transport links to the precinct and the stadium. A secondary Bus Rapid Transit station is located on the Soweto highway immediately to the north of the stadium, which further strengthens the public transport links to the stadium and the precinct. All of this is set in a revamped Nasrec Arena precinct, which boasts new roads, pedestrian walkways with lighting, signage, landscaping, CCTV, and public amenities and has been identified by the new landscaping and sculpture gateways.


The architectural design of the stadium was selected from a series of concept designs, ranging from an acknowledgement of Jo’burg’s disappearing mine dumps; the kgotla (defined by the tree) of the African city state; the African map as a horizontal representation, which included the roof as a desert plane supported on tropical trees set within the mineral wealth of Southern African; to a representation of the protea, our national flower.

The calabash, or African pot design, proposed by Boogertman + Partners in March of 2006 was selected by Dr Danny Jordaan as being the most recognisable object to represent what would automatically be associated with the African continent and not any other. The calabash, or ‘melting pot of African cultures’, sits on a raised podium, on top of which is located a ‘pit of fire’. Thus the pot sits in a depression, which is the ‘pit of fire’, as if it were being naturally fired. The pit of fire demarcates the security and turnstile line separating the outer areas and the secure inner areas. The iconic African Pot design was embraced by the City of Johannesburg when they took over the control of the stadium from SAFA in late 2006. The architectural team, lead by Bob van Bebber and Piet Boer from Boogertman + Partners, was assisted by Damon Lavelle from Populous who joined the team from February of 2007 after the construction site was handed over to the main contractor GLTA/Interbeton.

The structural profile of the existing suite levels and upper-tier seating of the existing western grandstand were extended all round to encircle the pitch. The existing lower embankments were rebuilt to vastly improve the view lines and comfort of the most popular seats in the house. The upper third of the existing lower embankment was raised to form a secondary tier, thus turning the stadium into a 3-tiered, rather than a 2-tiered, stadium. The upper embankment and the rebuilt lower embankment are accessible from the lower concourse, which is fed from the podium level at natural ground level. The two suite or skybox levels and the upper tier are accessed via complex 3-dimensional concrete ramp structures that are contained within the façade of the pot. The suite levels also have separate lift and stair lobbies at each corner for dedicated secure VIP access.

The pot’s façade is made up of laminated fibre reinforced concrete panels, in a selection of 8 colours and 2 textures that make reference to the shades and textures of the calabash. The pot is punctured by open or glazed panels which create a suggestion of pattern on the façade that comes into its own when the inside volumes are illuminated. The façade is articulated by 10 vertical slots which are aligned geographically with the 9 other 2010 stadia, as well as the Berlin stadium making up the tenth line from where the previous world cup came. These lines are representative of the ‘Road to the Final”, after the World Cup, the scores of each game played at each venue will be placed in pre-cast concrete panels on the podium. A visit to the stadium will thus provide one with a full history of the World Cup and all its scores. The story of the “Road to the Final” is based on the tradition of pattern making where the pattern tells a story of the person making the pot or those that will use it. Our story represents the journey that South Africa has taken to get to the 2010 World Cup Final. It is therefore appropriate that firstly there is reference to the previous world cup in 2006 hosted by Germany, where South Africa had lost out in the bidding process to Germany and where the baton was handed over to South Africa once the final game was played in Berlin.

The concept of the African pot which is the coming together of various cultures is thus one that is fully inclusive and brings people together for the experience of the event. It is relevant to note that more people come from outside of Johannesburg than were actually born in Johannesburg. It thus truly represents the melting pot of cultures. It also stems from the tradition of sharing the beer pot amongst all at a gathering, and it is seen as disrespectful to put the pot down until everyone has had a sip of beer. Again the idea is one that is very inclusive. This idea of inclusiveness is taken a step further by connecting all the other stadia that will play host to the 64 games of the FIFA 2010 World Cup. These lines which run through the façade as slots, and also go onto the podium where the scores will be represented, also run through the burnt orange seats in the seating bowl, where they manifest as dark grey lines that cut through the beautiful Highveld sunsets as shadow lines.

Another important symbolic reference in the stadium is that of the players’ tunnel. The tunnel was cut in under the existing western grandstand and has been designed as a sloping mine shaft as a reference and a tribute back to Joburg’s rich gold mining history. The players will thus walk down the mine shaft in search of gold.

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Rieder Sales GmbHRieder Sales GmbHManufacturers
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