Populous is vying against US/Italian consortium Manica/Sportium in the battle to design the new San Siro stadium in Milan
The iconic home of the city’s two teams – AC Milan and Inter – will be controversially demolished under proposals set out this summer, with a smaller 60,000 stadium to be built next door.
Populous’s proposal, dubbed The Cathedral, is inspired by two of Milan’s two most iconic buildings: the Duomo and the Galleria. The design is being driven by its London office in conjunction with its Milan team, led by Italian sports architect and ex-Gensler director Alessandro Zoppini.
‘It will be the greatest football stadium in Europe – more sustainable than any other with an incredibly tight and atmospheric seating bowl,’ said Populus managing director EMEA Christopher Lee.
Meanwhile, the Manica/Sportium bid envisages ‘two rings’ to represent each set of fans using the faces of 16,000 supporters, as well as a new park square. The consortium’s team comprises three architects: David Manica, Giovanni Giacobone (CEO Sportium) and Massimo Roj, chief executive of Progetto CMR, which owns Sportium.
US-based Manica, which specialises in sports and entertainment buildings, was founded in 2007 by David Manica, who previously worked for HOK Sport on the 02 Arena, the new Wembley Stadium and the Beijing National Stadium. The firm is based in Kansas City with offices in London and Hong Kong.
The proposed £630 million stadium, which will be built to the east of the San Siro while the ground remains in use, is expected to be completed for the start of the 2022/23 campaign. However, there is no word on when the competition winner will be announced and there have been suggestions in the Italian press that key deadlines with the municipality have already been missed.
There has also been a recent report alleging that the Milan teams were considering a partial U-turn on demolition. An article in the Milan-based Corriere della Sera newspaper hinted that the brief could be rewritten to make the design teams conserve part of the original ground.
‘Milan and Inter are thinking of “adjusting” the concepts presented a fortnight ago to “save” at least a concrete sign of the Milanese temple of football,’ the paper reports. ‘And perhaps to soften the resistance of politics, citizens and at least a part of the same Rossonerazzurri (Milan-Inter) supporters to the project that effectively erases almost a century of history.’
AC Milan have been playing at the ground since it was built in 1925 and have shared it with rivals Inter Milan since 1947. In the 1950s, the ground had 19 external pedestrian ramps added to it, followed by 11 concrete cylindrical towers (designed by Ragazzi and Partners 1987-1990) as part of a major overhaul ahead of Italy’s World Cup in 1990.
Asked by the AJ if the design brief had changed to retain part of the stadium, David Manica replied: ’No comment.’
Sketch of San Siro stadium by Ragazzi and Partners (1990)