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  • Writer's pictureRicardo Escobar

Stadium Worlds

Based on the book "Stadium Worlds", Football (soccer), Space and the Built Environment, edited by Sybille Frank and Silke Steets. The objective of the book is to emphasize the relationship that exists between football as a constitution of space, sociocultural practice, and to investigate the connection of this activity, the spaces and the creation of the environment, that is as a whole: the stadium.

This is what you have to know and consider before starting to design a stadium so that you know the social, political, psychological, mediatic and logistical commitments that it requires.

Football as a collective work of art.

Soccer is currently the most famous sport in the world, which gathers great masses of fans to these playgrounds, to stadiums, in front of televisions at home, and even to the street to watch children play. As an integral part of the day to day of modern society, this sport has the ability to create spatial and social unions. These events are subject to an analysis of society since it represents a large area for human interaction.

Otherwise, personal control is necessary to regulate behavior that is not exposed every day in the work office; this makes fans in the stadium generate a phenomenon called "Excitement Behavior in Public" or I personally compare it more to a "Collective Asteria". Sport is considered an exceptional pastime, but it also guarantees a compensatory function. This allows players and spectators to replicate "a loss of social and personal behavior", always considering a framework of rules.

The rules of the game, are designed to allow a maximum variation of behavior, which generates and produces a balance between order and chaos, between the exciting and boring, between the emotional and physical excesses and personal control, between the individual and the team, between the competition and the corporation on the court.

The Development of the stadium as a building type.

The stadium as a category of building is much more ancient than soccer, stadiums have been built since ancient times and have had complexly varied functions among them. The stadiums were always built as sports venues, regardless of the weather they were always primarily built with adobe, wood or stone walls, in antiquity; of concrete, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; or as in the modern era, steel and glass.

At present the stadiums have become a segregated space of high importance, where private boxes, lounges, corporate spaces and VIP areas are separated from the common areas of the fanatics, which generates a high margin of profit.

As a general vision of the architectural development of the stadiums, each stadium generates a different spatial relationship, whether from the interior to the exterior, the spectator and the court, between the fans and the players or between the stadium as a structure and the area surrounding the structure.

Theoretical perspectives: space, place and architecture.

Henri Lefebvre (1991) contented that (social) space is a (social) product. In other words, the space is not neutral (or passive) background upon witch or in social practices take place and a social order manifests itself.

Rather the space can be understood as a built, symbolic and social order, witch in always simultaneously a prerequisite and a product of human action.

-cf. Low 2001, 2008

Ass an example:

  • The fan sings, shouts, rants and rejoices in the stands and thus contributes to the production of a collective space (she/he acts).

  • Her/his signing, shouting, ranting and rejoicing, however, cannot exist independently of the particular social rules of the fan block, the economic and legal frameworks of the society in witch she/he lives, or the architectural and physical structures of the stadium.

Emile Durkheim (1961) sees the built environment as something produced socially: it is the expression of a societal consensus and - like institutional behavior and the rule of law - exist alongside the acting individual, externally and (apparently) independently.


In conclusion

The services of the stadiums have improved over the last 50 years because they started broadcasting the games to the whole world via satellite. Then the architects were forced to improve the image and services of the stadium. From the external facade, to the detail of the comfort of the seats.

The stadiums are a work of art that have existed for thousands of years. And they are made to create social environments that are under institutional behavior, and individual compliance with the law of each citizen (in this case the viewers). the stadiums are to generate a sense of belonging in society. And they can develop social activities that individually could not happen. That's why the book compares it to the law. Because even if they do things they would not do alone, they still are not illegal. Because the stadium also has a political commitment.

If you are interested in this article is based on the book "Stadium Worlds", Football (soccer), Space and the Built Environment, edited by Sybille Frank and Silke Steets, and I invite you to read it, here I could only make an introduction, but if you are looking for specific examples to inspire your own projects I invite you to look for the book, although it does not have data on how to design specifically, but it helps you consider the context and provides all the awareness you need to have before starting your design.

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