Celebrating African culture for their first World Cup

Soccer City

  • Johannesburg
  • 2009

CHALLENGE. In 2010, the FIFA World Cup came to Africa for the first time. The intense global attention drawn by the competition would, ultimately, focus on Soccer City as the host venue for the final. The challenge for Populous was to create a new state of the art stadium that would act as a symbol for modern African culture and, crucially, meet FIFA’s technical requirements. This design had to work around the existing historic stadium, thus calling for the right balance of renovation and rebuilding.

INNOVATION. Surmounting the new stadium is the calabash, or ‘melting pot’ of African culture. Its façade is made up of a unique cladding system, developed as fiber-cement panels that could be produced using locally sourced material. This gives a unique African flavor to the facade of the building. The pot is punctured by open panels that provide natural ventilation and, when the stadium is lit up, mimic the starlit African sky.

The structural profile of the upper levels was extended all round to encircle the pitch, while the lower embankments were rebuilt, vastly improving the view lines.

IMPACT. Soccer City is the largest stadium in Africa. The multi award-winning design, with its striking calabash, has successfully transformed the original stadium into a new national stadium that all of Africa can be proud of. Building on its acclaimed hosting of World Cup matches, the stadium has a successful legacy event program that continues to add an extra dimension to the already vibrant city of Johannesburg.