Saturday, December 11, 2010
The World's Most Fascinating Stadiums
Beijing National Stadium
Location: Beijing, China
Isn't the Beijing National Stadium a wonder? Also known as the Bird's Nest, the Beijing National Stadium was built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the Paralympics. Designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and cost more than US$420 million to build, the stadium holds the title of the world's largest steel structure. The design originated from the study of Chinese ceramics, implementing steel beams in order to hide supports for the retractable roof.
Beijing National Aquatics Center
Location: Beijing, China
Barely 500 meters away from the Bird's Nest, we have The Water Cube: a visually-stunning aquatics center built for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Olympics. Comprising of a steel space frame and the seating capacity of 6,000, the Water Cube is the largest ETFE-clad structure in the world. If you are wondering what the blue bubbles are made of, they are made of actual sliced-soap foam bubbles. Now, that is rocket science.
Location: Munich, Germany
Your stadium might have the coolest name, Manchester United, but FC Bayern München and TSV 1860 München have the coolest stadium, period. Located in the north of Munich, Germany, the Allianz Arena is the home ground of both FC Bayern München and TSV 1860 München since 2005. The Allianz Arena sits 69,000 and boasts three day-care centers, two fan shops, the FC Bayern Munich Megastore and the TSV 1860 München Allianz Arena Megastore. Here's the awesome part: the stadium is lit up in red when Bayern plays, in blue when 1860 Munich plays and in white when in use by the German National Team.
Kaohsiung National Stadium
Location: Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Completed in 2009, the Kaohsiung National Stadium is the largest stadium capacity-wise in Taiwan. The 55,000 capacity stadium hosted the 2009 World Games and is now used for some Taiwan football team matches. But what's so fascinating about this stadium, you ask? The Kaohsiung National Stadium is the world's largest solar-powered stadium, harnessing about 1.4 gigawatt hours of electricity every year. When the stadium is not in use, the electricity generated and stored by the solar panels will power 80% of the neighborhood around the stadium.
Yas Marina Circuit
Location: Abu Dhabi
Situated in the man-made Yas Island 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi, the Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix. The circuit was designed by world-renowned architects Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, and the Circuit boasts the world's first and only Ferrari World theme park, a water park, numerous hotels as well as a few residential areas. Perhaps the most interesting bit about the Yas Marina Circuit is that part of its pit lane exit runs underneath the track.
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Sure, it looks like an oversize golf ball and you can laugh at it all you want, but the Ericsson Globe is the largest hemispherical building in the world. The Globen, as it is nicknamed, is the national indoor arena of Sweden and took two and a half years to build. The Globen has a seating capacity of almost 14,000 and is primarily used for ice hockey games and in some instances, concerts. The most interesting bit about the stadium is the funicular railway on the side of the Globe called the Skyview: a 130-meter high observation gondola which takes visitors to the top for an unobstructed view over Stockholm.
Burj Al Arab helipad
OK, technically it is not really a stadium, but playing tennis on the heli pad of a seven-star hotel is fascinating nonetheless. Tennis legends Andre Agassi and Roger Federer literally took tennis to new heights - all 211 meters of them - when they played a 20-minute match on a specially prepared tennis court on the helipad of Dubai's 7-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, in 2005. The court stretched up to 415 square meters, and was the highest - and most likely the most expensive - tennis court in the world. If you want to play tennis on top of the Burj Al Arab, remember to bring along a parachute, just in case.
Gansevoort South hotel swimming pool
Location: Miami, USA
If you thought playing tennis 211 meters above the ground was cool, what about playing on water? Yep, current women's world number two Serena Williams and current men's world number one Rafael Nadal played a game of water tennis in Gansevoort South hotel's swimming pool in 2008! The 43,000 gallon pool measured 110-foot long and it took a specialist underwater team seven days to construct two invisible platforms at either end of the pool. The platform was made using a combination of bespoke acrylic sheets and supporting acrylic tubes.
Estadio Municipal de Braga
Location: Braga, Portugal
The Estadio Municipal de Braga rocks - literally! Built in 2004 for the European Championship, the stadium was carved from the Monte Castro quarry. The stands run along only two sides of the stadium, with one end behind the goal a rock wall and at the other, an open view overlooking the city of Braga. The overall cost of the stadium was US$122 million (largely due to the strenuous rock-moving process), making the Estadio Municipal de Braga the most expensive stadium in Portugal, and one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world. We agree.
The Marina Bay floating pitch
Location: Marina Bay, Singapore
Closer to home, the little island of Singapore has built themselves the world's first and largest floating football pitch. The pitch is located on the waters of the Marina Reservoir near Marina Bay and was made entirely of steel; measuring 120 metres long and 83 metres wide. Taking almost 13 months to build, the platform consists of 15 smaller movable pontoons so that the pitch can be rearranged depending on the occasion. The pitch can bear the weight of 9,000 people and the gallery has a sitting capacity of close to 30,000 people.
Location: Doha, Qatar
First, Qatar made history as the first Arab country to be selected to host the World Cup. Now, the 1.6 million-population country is set to become the home of the world's first underground stadium called The Wall. The stadium, also nicknamed The Laptop because of its design, will also be the world's first fully air-conditioned stadium and will feature embedded lights within the structure of the building. With a seating capacity of 11,000 (a little lousy, we know) and set to cost US$20 million, The Wall will most likely be one of Qatar's World Cup venues. Keep your fingers crossed, people.
Location: Dallas, USA
Believe it or not: the Cowboys Stadium's sitting capacity of 111,000 is the LEAST remarkable part of this stadium. For starters, the Cowboys Stadium, home of NFL team the Dallas Cowboys, is one of the world's most expensive stadiums ever built, costing more than US$ 1.5 billion. Not only that, the state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium is world's largest-domed arena and largest column-free interior in the world. The highlight of the stadium, however, is its humongous hanging high-definition television screen. Measuring 49 meters wide and 22 meters tall, the "Jerry-Tron" (named after the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones) is the largest high-definition screen in the world. How amazing is that?
Location: Osaka, Japan
If we have to give the award of the weirdest stadium ever, we have to give it to Japan's Osaka Stadium. Built in 1950, the Osaka Stadium was home to baseball team Nankai Hawks. The stadium has a seating capacity of 32,000 back in its heydays, but in 1988, the team abandoned the stadium as they moved to the Heiwadai Stadium. A housing company then bought the land, build houses inside the stadium and voila, we have the most fascinating stadium in the world. Sadly, the stadium was demolished in 1998 and a shopping center was built on that location.