New arena dazzles with great views, chameleon-like façade
TWIG - After nearly three years of construction, Munich’s futuristic Allianz Arena stadium has swung open its gates to the acclaim of soccer fans and architecture connoisseurs alike.
"I’ve seen pretty much every stadium in the world, but I’ve never seen anything as good as this," German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer said Tuesday at grand opening ceremonies for the spectacular arena.
Designed by award-winning Basel, Switzerland-based architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the Allianz Arena is one of 12 stadiums across Germany to be built or refurbished for next year’s soccer World Cup.
Yet with its steeply banked seating and the dazzling color effects of its dramatic illuminated façade, the Alianz Arena stands apart — and could well become an iconic calling card for the 64-match tournament that runs from June 9 to July 9, 2006.
Nicknamed the ‘Schlauchboot’ (rubber dinghy) by locals, the stadium will be shared by record-breaking domestic champions Bayern Munich and their cross-town rivals, second division side Munich 1860.
By day, the massive stadium does indeed evoke the image of lumbering silvery grey raft ran ashore in Munich’s industrial northern suburbs.
At night, however, the stadium’s translucent, diamond-shaped shell comes alive, acting as a projection surface which can be bathed in a kaleidoscope of color — a brilliant red for Bayern, a regal blue for 1860 or a glittering white for Germany’s national team.
"We used the variation in color as an important strategic means to solve the situation whereby two clubs share the ground," architect recently Herzog told FIFAworldcup.com, the tournament’s official website.
"Each of the clubs — Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich — stamp their own seal on the ground in turn."
Inside, three compact tiers of seats guarantee each and every fan a spine-tingling place right on top of the action. In sharp contrast to Munich’s Olympic Stadium, where a running track spoiled the view, seating at the Allianz Arena begins right at the edge of the pitch.
"The most critical component is the densely compact spectator area vis à vis the pitch," said Herzog, who together with de Meuron rose to fame with the Tate Gallery extension in London and is currently working on the new national stadium in Beijing.
"Every seat brings you close to the action, every spectator is part of the drama. That may sound obvious, but it’s actually only been put into practice at a select group of stadiums."
"Given the laws of physics and current building regulations, I don’t think you could construct a stadium which brings the fans closer to the pitch," he added.
So far, fans seem to appreciate soccer’s new $345 million home in the Bavarian metropolis.
On Tuesday, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric as a capacity crowd of Bayern supporters packed into the new arena to watch the Bundesliga champs cruise to a 4-2 victory over a selection from Germany’s national team.
The first game at the new stadium was actually played a day
earlier, when 1860 Munich beat Nuremberg 3-2 in a rousing local derby on
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