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Populous completes World Cup stadium

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[FIRST LOOK + PLANS] Populous’ £200 million stadium in Johannesburg – the venue for the opening and closing matches of this summer’s World Cup – has been completed

The 88,583-seat Soccer City arena project has overhauled an existing football stadium built in the early 1980s.

London-based Damon Lavelle, principal at Populous, said: ‘The original stadium was basically a bowl built into the ground, like a classic American football ground from that time.

‘The Johannesburg Development Agency wanted to keep a lot of the original structure, but it really wasn’t possible, so we had to convince them that hanging on to some of those elements would lead to higher costs overall.’

The lower embankment was completely rebuilt to improve view lines, while the existing suite levels and upper-tier seating of the western grandstand were extended to encircle the pitch.

By getting rid of most of the old build, Populous, with lead architects Boogertman + Partners, was able to create an arena shaped like a calabash (an African bowl), clad in earthen shades.

Lavelle explained: ‘The concept is that it is a pot that sits in the middle of a gathering, and that’s what this stadium will be; a focus for the people of the local Soweto township and for the whole of Africa in general.’

Soccer City is one of five football grounds to be rebuilt for the 2010 World Cup, as well as five new-build arenas.

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