The architecture of the World Cup 2018 stadia (Part 2)

Before the World Cup began, we looked at five of the Russian venues playing host to the games over this summer’s festival of football.

With the competition now well underway and providing plenty of excitement and talking points, we now turn our attentions to the remaining seven stadia, many of which are in some of the lesser known cities of this intriguing nation:

Rostov Arena (Rostov-on-Don)

The exciting draw between Brazil and Switzerland at the weekend saw the first glimpse of the newly built Rostov Arena.

A five-year building process on the 43,472 capacity stadium included the unearthing of five WWII bombshells. In total, the venue cost three billion rubles to construct, which equates to nearly £36m.

Architecturally, the most interesting thing about the arena is the unusual shape of the roof, which slopes as it makes its way around the stands. The design is said to take inspiration from the nearby Kurgans, a group of historic earth mounds in the Rostov-on-Don area.

Krestovsky Stadium (Saint Petersburg)

Certainly one of the more familiar cities to those outside of Russia, Saint Petersburg is home to one of the country’s biggest clubs in FC Zenit. As of last year, the city has a new stadium able to hold more than 64,000 spectators.

The proposed design of the stadium was titled ‘The Spaceship’, and it’s not hard to see why. A disc-shaped, futuristic-looking venue, the Krestovsky is believed to be one of the most expensive stadiums ever to be built, coming in at £830m. Indeed, this eye-watering sum created some disputes among contractors in 2016, bringing a brief halt to the work.

Well-equipped to deal with both potential hooliganism and spectators with disabilities, the stadium hosted Russia’s win over Egypt on Tuesday, and will be the venue of one of the semi-final games.

Cosmos Arena (Samara)

Another new stadium, and again, as the name implies, there is a space theme. Architecture fans will love the domed roof that covers the entire stadium in Samara, giving it a UFO-style appearance. Perhaps one has to be there to appreciate it in its fullest splendour though, as the appearance extends to the star-shaped shadow the structure casts on the ground adjacent to it.

Towering 60 meters in height and with a capacity of nearly 42,000, the Samara venue is an impressive structure. Look out for it during this afternoon’s game between Denmark and Australia.

Mordovia Arena (Saransk)

A BBC article from this week has suggested that Saransk could be the most unusual of the 12 stadia hosting games during the current tournament. It was a surprise choice of venue for most Russians, and work on it had begun before the nation was even awarded the 2018 World Cup.

It has a capacity of 41,685 for this summer, although this is expected to drop down to 30,000 when the competition finishes as FC Mordovia Saransk – a club playing in Russia’s third tier of football last season – become its tenants.

The brightly coloured stadium takes its inspiration from the sun, which is an ancient mythological symbol to the people of Mordovia. The next team to play there will be Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, who face Iran on Monday, June 25.

Fisht Olympic Stadium (Sochi)

This venue will already be familiar to followers of winter sports, having played host to them in 2014. The city is in the far south of Russia, beside the Black Sea and close to the border with Georgia.

Originally an indoor stadium, it was converted into an open-air venue with the World Cup in mind. In fact, the football team that will play home games in the 44,000-seater stadium. PFC Sochi, was only founded a couple of weeks ago, highlighting the fact that it is very much an all-purpose stadium that has developed into a football ground.

Nonetheless, the Fisht is architecturally impressive, with its high-arced stands that glow in red, blue and yellow iridescent light, and it was certainly lit up when Portugal and Spain tussled out a thrilling 3-3 draw there last Friday.

Despite the name and the seaside location, the stadium has no connection with fish, and instead takes its name from the 9,400-foot Mount Fisht, part of the Caucasus Mountains.

Volgograd Arena (Volgograd)

England began their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on Monday in the city of Volgograd at another newly built stadium, as you can gather from this picture of the Volgograd arena mid-construction.

As you can see despite the image only showing its skeletal structure, the shape of the stadium is that of an inverted cone. Another very interesting architectural feature can be found with the roof, which rests on a bicycle wheel-style cable frame. Given the number of gnats seen swarming the pitch during the England game, players and supporters may have been happier had the roof been covering the stadium during the match.

The stadium holds 43,713 supporters, and will next host Nigeria vs. Iceland tomorrow.

Central Stadium (Yekaterinburg)

By far the easternmost of the 12 stadia being used at the World Cup is in Yekaterinburg. The city is east of the Ural Mountains and deep into the Eurasian area of Russia. It therefore makes sense that it is named Central Stadium.

The stadium was built in 1957, but has undergone two major renovation projects since the turn of the millennium. It has the smallest capacity of any of the venues at just over 33,000, and 12,000 of these seats are only temporary.

From the outside, the stadium looks quintessentially Russian, adorned with arches and statues that can be seen in the bottom right of the image, and its traditional appearance has been retained despite the heavy renovation work to bring it bang up to date.

This evening’s game between France and Peru provides a second chance to see the Central Stadium, which also hosted the second game of the competition – a forgettable affair involving Egypt and Uruguay. It will not be used after June 27, after which it will return to being the home of Russian Premier League side Ural Yekaterinburg.

Posted by Mark
June 21, 2018

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