Just weeks after the close of the 2006 World Cup, a German architecture firm is working hard to remodel three South African stadiums in time for the next soccer world championship in 2010.
An artist's rendition of the future World Cup stadium in Durban at night
Designing a professional soccer stadium must be an architect's dream project. For those at the acclaimed architecture firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp), the dream has come true yet again -- this time in South Africa.
Berlin architects Meinhard von Gerkan, Volkwin Marg and their colleagues were commissioned to build three of the five new stadiums planned for the 2010 World Cup soccer championship in South Africa. They introduced their plans recently, just weeks after the conclusion of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
"It even surprised us," said architect Hubert Nienhoff from gmp, whose firm has been working on stadiums in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.
An arch for the Durban skyline
The Durban stadium will sit near the Indian Ocean
Gerkan, Marg and Partners also rebuilt stadiums in Frankfurt, Cologne and Berlin in preparation for this year's World Cup. They're not novices and it shows.
It was the creative touch of Nienhoff's team that won his firm the contract in South Africa. The Durban stadium's facade, which is made up of slats, will protect against sun and rain while not obstructing the view to the outside. The highlight of the new building is an arch that will span across the stadium. It will be visible from afar and is expected to enrich the city's skyline.
Organizers wanted "to put Durban on the map" with the new stadium construction, said Nienhoff, which is largely why his team's unique design was selected.
Short on time and money
The remodeling of Berlin's Olympic Stadium is on the firm's impressive resume
Though the three new South African stadiums are meant to outlive the 2010 World Cup and make a lasting impact on the respective cities, the budget for their remodeling is relatively low compared to similar projects in other countries.
Only a quarter of the funds invested in the remodeling of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin has been budgeted for the updated Port Elizabeth stadium, for example.
Money, however, is less problematic than time.
"The decision to start with the construction of the stadiums now is actually too late for us Germans," Nienhoff said.
It's no secret that the South African's have a different relationship with time than the Germans do. International soccer association FIFA allegedly discussed behind closed doors the possibility of pulling the 2010 championship from South Africa due to the country's less than timely preparation schedule.
Up for the challenge
Germans have a hand in the next World Cup
"One thing is for sure: The South Africans are incredibly proud of their country and aren't going to let anyone doubt that they can pull it off," Nienhoff said.
Despite the difficulties that inevitably accompany a project of this magnitude, Nienhoff is confident of success. His hope is that people will enjoy coming to the three new stadiums and that the German architecture will touch other parts of Africa too.