South Africa World Cup 2010: Soccer City Stadium


The 2010 World Cup to be held in is less than one year away. Being perhaps the most important international competition in sports in the world, we would like to start featuring some of the stadiums that will host this magnificient competition.

Soccer City Stadium is located in Johannesburg and it was originally built in 1987. Among other important events, it hosted the first massive speech from Nelson Mandela after his liberation in 1990. However, it was completely renewed for the upcoming World Cup, becoming the stadium where the starting and the final game will be played.

Designed by Boogertman Urban Edge and Partners in partnership with Populous, it will allow for 94,000 spectators to enjoy the best soccer in the world. The design of the stadium was selected from a series of concept designs ranging from acknowledgement of Johannesburg’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 Africa; to a representation of the protea, South Africa’s national flower.

The calabash, or African pot, was selected as being the most recognizable 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.

More images after the break.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "South Africa World Cup 2010: Soccer City Stadium" 14 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Durban

    Proteas, mine dumps, tropical trees, calabashes, desert planes… I dont buy any of that!

  • mime

    what is it with pots and stadiums. too many ideas and concepts went into the redesign of the stadium. looks pretty cool though, which is what most people think about

  • RT

    why does stadium always have to be a round shape from the outside…

    • cad

      yeah, if the field is rectangular, then the stadium should be the same.

      • chris

        all arenas are circular in order to maximize the seating capacity, if you were to have corners views in the corners would be minimized greatly.

      • ibrahim

        that will disrupt the angle of vision

    • morte

      have any of you ever been to a ‘rectangular’ stadium and had to sit in the corner? its impossible to see anything – form follows function – design the damn stadium for the spectators!

    • foonzee

      stadiums in the outside are round because is the best form that fits them

      • Thor

        Yes. It’s called a basketball arena. and no one ever wants to sit in the corner seats. Plus everyone is much closer to the action in a basketball arena as opposed to a football stadium.

  • StructureHub Blog

    With all of those cultural and political references that Populous is trying to imbibe the stadium design with, they could be forgiven for losing their way amidst the weeds of symbolism. Luckily, the design looks pretty cohesive. Too bad it is marred by the labor problems encountered during construction.

    • Dennis

      how is it marred by labor problems? it’s finished, isn’t it?

  • Fairo|X_Durban

    Great design worthy of hosting the finals of the Fifa 2010 World Cup. The symbolism is spot on

  • clee

    It’s better than half the awful stadiums Populous has been responsible for in the US… I’m not sure if that’s to be taken as a compliment or not.

    • Just the Facts

      Unfortunately, for the US all of the good designers for Populous work in their foreign offices, which they must of allowed the US office design the stadium for the London Olympics.

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  • Juni

    Populous is the best firm for stadiums and stuff. Here they do another great job, beautiful and so on but the same question remains when talking about nations that don’t have football (soccer) for a passion: What to do with the stadiums when worldcup is over ?
    But talking about architecture, that one is great. Love it.

    • Dennis

      they can use it for other sports… rugby? :)

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  • marc

    this is interesting, but in a bad way.
    doughnut, anyone? :P

  • PB

    so what if it’s a donut, it looks cook and has an interesting form, both inside and out. As for the concept…?….

  • Franco

    A place for fun, a place for knowledge

  • Kris

    Quite like it.
    Nice effect of the colours with the openings.
    Good reflection of the african culture.
    Looking forward to the opening match next year.

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  • Mathew

    It’s definitely a great looking building, but enough with symbolism, it’s tacky and doesn’t add anything to the building except tackiness.

  • mark

    i prefer this to beijing’s bird nest

  • Cucumelo

    I like it, but I just don`t get that “symbolism”. The Stadium looks like dozens other stadiums around the world (Allianz Arena, Baltic Arena, new Camp Nou etc). It has different facade and slightly different form but it doesn`t make it look like an african pot ;). I just don`t buy it :)

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  • Guy

    The South African architects were Boogertman Urban Edge – I think they need more credit as the lead architects, a fantastic stadium in a great city – and incredibly site specific for a stadium.

  • Student of Architecture

    I feel that the design is well executed, however, the metaphysical influences that are mentioned in the design statement went missing during the design process

  • Lydon

    I, most naturally, love it.

    The symbolism is also perfectly clear to me. It’s still got to look like a stadium despite them aiming for the calabash look.

  • Neill

    Fantastic stadium – what dont people get about the symbolism? I mean, it looks like a calabash, and African cooking pot. It will be lit up at night to look like a pot on a fire, as people all over Africa cook in their clay pots.
    I mean, there you go…

  • Chris

    The metaphor is culturally appropriate (tick)
    The stadium is beautiful (tick)
    The overall urban influence of the project is positive (tick)
    I really don’t understand why so many people are critical of this project. It is a massive accomplishment. I think everybody involved deserves to be proud. I am.

    • Guy

      Well put – it’s strangely camouflaged too, the yellow matches the colour of the surrounding mine-dumps perfectly, its form dissolves into the landscape. No egocentric grand statement here (as is the case with so many other new global stadia).

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  • Alex

    I like the clading, but i dont like the shape. It would be more intresting if it was square or even had two square sides. I dont really know how to explain how it looks in my head but it would make more sense if two sides were square.

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  • Ambani

    Great thinks are Coming to Africa and very nice stadium too congratulation to all south African please don’t fail Africa Good habit to all.

  • makgalemele

    the more concepts the better. looks dope

  • rhubz

    ja guys, the stadium looks pretty and i suppose thats what non architectural people who visit it to see soccer matches will say as well. i do have to say though that the concepts that drive the design of the stadium is way too symbolic