Postmodern Architecture: Football Stadia

Fredric Jameson (2006) states that it is within architecture that postmodernism is “dramatically visible” and it is particularly evident within sports stadia. Because it is in sports stadia that we have seen drastic development within disability access, seating areas, supporter safety and technology (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, P528). Examples of postmodern buildings include the Portland building in Portland, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai and 461 Fifth Avenue in New York.

Prior to the postmodern movement,  football stadiums were built with wooden terraces and standing sections, separated from the pitch by metal fencing (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 524). British stadiums were widely known for how close the fans were to the pitch, as opposed to foreign stadiums in which the fans were separated from the pitch by at304314hletics tracks, something that will be seen when West Ham move to the Olympic stadium (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 524).

It was after the horrific tragedies of Ibrox Park, Heysel, Bradford and Hillsborough that the re-development of football stadiums properly began (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 526). Stadiums were made more ‘surveilled, safe and sanitised’ in order to prevent these disasters recurring, stadiums were made ‘all-seater’, wooden seats were all but removed and safety checks were performed upon entry to the stadiums (Bale, 2000, p 93). It was not just an increase in regulations or the standing ban that were introduced, also introduced were more comfortable, under cover seats, toilets facilities for men and women and food and beverage stores, all of which are associated with postmodern buildings (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 524). Outside of football offices, universities and business all have within them coffee shops, food shops and toilet facilities.

West_Ham_United_&_Newham_Council_Olympic_StadiumWhat had came with the increase in safety was also the increase in innovation, as bosses realised the financial potential within the stadiums and finances are at the heart of postmodernism (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 526). The more demand there was for tickets, the more tiers and seating the clubs added, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Old Trafford have all increased their seating, while, as of 2014, Liverpool are in the process of doing the same (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 525). Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham instead have built or are planning to build new stadiums for the same purposes.

Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena is regarded as an Iconic postmodern building with its grand design, ‘retractable roofs’ and its ability to change colour. Paramio, Burrito and Campos, (2008) claim that the main difference between post modern stadiums and modern stadiums “is the symbiosis between innovative design and commercial development”.allianz-arena_s345x230

What they are saying is that in our capitalist society there is now an emphasis upon the commercial and financial side of postmodern buildings, whether sporting stadia or not (Jameson, 2006, p483). Stadiums such as the Allianz are now thought of as part of the City and the community, in the same way that The Empire State building is a major part of, and represents New York (Bale, 2000, p92).

This is why there is an increased demand to use these stadiums all year round, these building are no longer purely sports stadia but are used for other business (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 528). Bale (2000, p93) spoke of stadiums as ‘tradiums’ due to the link between leisure and spending’. Stadiums now feature ‘conference imagesand banqueting facilities, museums, hotels and merchandising’, (Bale, 2000, p93). Chesterfields Proact Stadium even has its own children play area, which is open regularly throughout the week while Manchester City’s Etihad stadium will be used for a series of Stone Roses concerts throughout June 2016 (Bale, 2000, p93). No longer are stadiums purely buildings, but they are now marketable businesses that operate year round, a key component of postmodernism, in keeping with the times.

Disability Access is an often unnoticed part of postmodernism, but one of the biggest changes. Stadiums now require increasing access for disabled citizens, with wheelchair platforms and slopes now common place in both buildings and stadiums.

Football Stadiums are now businesses in themselves, that are not used for purely footballing purposes. They are built to maximise finances for the football clubs, while representing the city, stadiums such as Nou Camp and Allianz Arena are known around the world for their iconic designs and feature, in a similar way that the eiffel tower or The Empire State building are. While safety and accessibility in stadiums is now a primary concern when designing them.


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