“Open, Elegant and Serene”: Nikken Sekkei to Transform FC Barcelona’s Iconic Stadium

FC Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou stadium is set for a massive renovation. The Japanese architecture firm Nikken Sekkei was chosen to carry out the project, which will expand the seating capacity of the stadium to 105,000 and involves the addition of a 506,000-square-foot canopy to provide coverage to fans in inclement conditions. This renovation will make Camp Nou the second largest football stadium in the world after North Korea’s Rungrado May Day stadium.

Currently seating 99,354, Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe, a distinction it has held for over half a century. It was built in 1957 to meet a growing demand for seating that could not be accommodated by the club’s previous stadium, Camp de Les Corts. Nikken Sekkei’s new scheme for the stadium will not only increase its already massive capacity even further, but it will also overhaul its appearance. The selection committee, comprised of five club members, the Col.legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya and a member of the Barcelona City Council, described the winning proposal as “open, elegant, serene, timelessly Mediterranean and democratic.”

Transparent balconies will line the open-air concourses, providing views of the city and greatly increasing the circulation of air throughout the stadium. As the selection committee explained, the new design makes “members the stars of the façade and of the open area at all times.”

The most dramatic change fans will notice in the new stadium is likely to be greater field visibility, which Nikken Sekkei plans to accomplish by placing the stands on a steeper incline.

Construction of the new stadium will begin in 2017 and is scheduled for completion in 2021. The bulk of construction is scheduled to take place during offseason months in order to minimize the renovation’s disruption to the club.