Brick: If there’s one thing it’s good at, it’s looking imposing as hell.
Images surfaced last week of Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron’s proposal for a £500 million Chelsea football stadium. The design of the 60,000 capacity building references Westminster Abbey and its gothic look is supported by faux-vintage renderings of how the stadium will appear once its finished. The architects couple this vision with rhetoric, stating that the new Chelsea stadium is “beyond beauty or ugliness.” In an interview with The Guardian they compared the design to a medieval walled city, which is fine, because the stadium looks like it could host bloodsports as easily as soccer. One gets the sense that it could be shelled by tanks and remain standing.
The exterior of the stadium will have concrete and brick columns that rise into a zigzag profile then fold over into the roof. The designers throw the word “muscular” around before stating that they wanted the stadium to be a place where Chelsea fans could feel “at home.” I laughed a little at the apparent contradiction, but then I Googled “Chelsea football riots” for fun and realized that the architects aren’t far off the mark. The stadium’s militant appearance is, no doubt, suited to the kind of people who trashed downtown Paris last year over a soccer match.
An interesting note from the Guardian story is how the building will echo brutalist architecture styles from the 1970s, suggesting that brutalism could be making a comeback among younger designers. Brutalism was dumped, hard, a few decades ago, but it’s not without its fans. As someone who favors extremes, I may be one of them.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
Any thoughts about this post? Share yours in the comment box below.