It’s hard to imagine the Boston Red Sox designing a new stadium using Old North Church or Trinity as architectural inspiration. However, that’s exactly what is happening in London.
Football, known as soccer here in the U.S., is the national sport of England. In fact, The Guardian quips it could even be considered the national religion.
The Newest London Stadium Design Inspired By Westminster Abby
When you look at it that way, perhaps it’s not all that surprising that Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron have decided to use Westminster Abbey as their inspiration for the design of the new Chelsea FC stadium and village. The completed project is predicted to cost somewhere in the ballpark (or, should we say “pitch”) of £500 pounds (approximately $782 million USD).
The project, commissioned by Chelsea football club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, is still shrouded in a bit of mystery and there aren’t many details available. However, the architects have provided several sepia-toned renderings that look quite a bit like modern-day people, communing and walking in a Medieval village of sorts.
Herzog & de Meuron have decided that, rather than build a free-standing, iconic structure that rises amidst the inner-city industrialscape, they will build a solid, Gothic design that will exist as football club, stadium and village. Architect Jacques Herzog says, “We have tried to make it a place where people will really feel at home.” In order to do this, Herzog & de Meuron plan to build a structure with the feeling of, “a castle, or a medieval walled village … something you wouldn’t find anywhere else.”
Architectural features include things like:
- Heavy stone masonry
- Brick columns that zigzag and then fold over to form the roof
- Nave-like areas
- Spiraling staircases
- Flying buttresses
The building site is located in an area once considered part of the Westminster Abbey diocese, one reason for the architects’ Gothic inspiration. However, they also plan to incorporate other aspects of historic London architecture as part of their design such as the vaults beneath London Bridge station, the store- and restaurant-stalled passages of Camden Market and even plans to incorporate features echoing the work of Brutalist architect, Paul Rudolph.
The new London stadium will consist of three separate tiers and a elevated brick bridge will provide stadium-direct, pedestrian access from Fulham Road. It will increase crowd capacity from 42,000 to 60,000, and football fans aren’t the only ones who will benefit. Beneath the Gothic arches and soaring vaults will be a whole ‘nother world of shops, bars and cafes, completing the village-esque atmosphere the architects hope to recreate.
As The Guardian article points out, the new London stadium is nothing like two of Herzog & de Meuron’s most recent designs, Allianz Arena for Bayern Munich or the recently completed Bordeaux Stadium in France. Even so, they hope the Chelsea FC’s stadium will be something completely unique, a building that will celebrate “an amazing tradition”.
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