Even the most beautifully designed stadiums are an eyesore. They’re sprawling moles protruding from the skin of an urban environment, distended to accommodate a wide footprint of seats low to the ground. So we shape them like vaginas and bird’s nests to convince ourselves they’re meaningful architecture.
But the Italian soccer club AC Milan is taking a very different approach to their new, 48,000-person stadium they’ve bid to open in Portello in 2018 or 2019. Designed by Arup–also responsible for Beijing’s famous Bird’s Nest–the new stadium is fairly typical at its core, with your standard seats and field for play. But around the stadium’s heart, architects will build a castle-like perimeter of restaurants, a hotel, and a sports college. From the street, the stadium just looks like a block-wide mall.
Additionally, architects are capping the stadium’s height at 100 feet (whereas the club’s old stadium was double that height), building it 30 feet into the ground to do so. They’re also promising to deploy various soundproofing technologies to keep the crowd noise to a minimum.
Though, whether you consider these updates civilized or rather mundane is all a matter of perspective. It’s hard to imagine a diehard sports fan getting pumped as they walked up to the equivalent of a giant mall with a soccer field inside, unable to hear the roar of the crowd, and maybe taking a seat in one of those Brookstone massage recliners on the way in. Then again, there must be a better way to build a stadium than as a dizzying space ship of churro stands covered in a thin veneer of barely mopped vomit.