Sports facilities

Bilbao, Vizcaya. Spain

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New San Mamés Stadium

César A. Azcárate Gómez

Description Technical file

The difficulties inherent to the challenge of building a new stadium on the old San Mamés football pitch, an icon for any Bilbao native, has been resolved efficiently and brilliantly in this delicate architectural exercise.
The Bilbao Athletic Club is one of the major European football clubs and its previous, more than 100-year-old stadium was a mythical construction popularly known as “the cathedral of football”. Situated virtually in the same spot as the old one, the new stadium’s ground plan “treads” on the old San Mamés, forcing its construction to be carried out in two phases.
One of the main challenges in the design of the new San Mamés, which can seat 53,000 spectators, was maintaining the magical and intense footballing atmosphere of the old “cathedral”. This effect has not only been retained but has also been exceeded, amply meeting the demands of one of the best crowd of supporters in the world.
The location of the new stadium at the end of the urban grid of Bilbao’s expansion district, the Ensanche, with privileged views over the Nervión estuary, transforms the building into an architectural piece that needs to show itself with a forceful iconic presence and does so while respecting the rest of the constructions that complete this part of the city. From this reflection emerged one of the first aspects to have been taken into account in its design, the conception of the built volume as an urban building, relating to the others and not as a mere sports facility. It was also sought to give spatial value to the parts of a stadium that do not traditionally have it, that is to say, the places between the stadium perimeter and the back part of the grandstands, which constitute the circulation spaces for accessing and exiting the grandstands, which after all are the main place of any football pitch.
In order to give added value to these spaces, the project strategy consists not only in giving them spatial qualities but also making these places establish a very intense relationship with the city and the setting. To do this, one of the fundamental elements emerges, one that undoubtedly make the new San Mamés unique: the façade treatment, using the repetition of linked ETFE foil, which gives the ensemble its dynamism and unity. This façade element is lit up at night, creating an urban landmark above the estuary, projecting a new image of Bilbao. The roof, made up of powerful radial metal trusses oriented towards the centre of the playing field, is covered in pads of white ETFE which extend over the entire grandstands.

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Localización Location: Bilbao, Vizcaya. Spain. Arquitecto principal Main architect: César A. Azcárate Gómez (IDOM). Responsable de Cliente Client care: Alberto Tijero. Director de Proyecto Project Director: Óscar Malo. Arquitecto adjunto Deputy architect: Diego Rodríguez. Gestores de Proyecto Project managers: Alexander Zeuss y Gontzal Martínez. Arquitectos colaboradores Collaborating architects: Ricardo Moutinho y Luís Ausín. Arquitectos Técnicos Quantity Surveyors: Javier Ruiz de Prada y Gabriel Bustillo. Delineación Draughtsman: Felipe Gaona. Urbanización Urbanization: Alberto Fuldain, Javier Durán y Jon Ochoa. Estructuras Structures: Armando Bilbao, Javier Llarena, Nerea Castro y Mikel Mendicote. Instalaciones eléctricas Electricity building services: Álvaro Gutiérrez, Miguel García y Mikel Lotina. Instalaciones mecánicas Mechanical building services: Alberto Ribacoba, Jon Zubiaurre y Lorena Muñoz. Instalaciones de telecomunicaciones Telecommunications building services: Aritz Muñoz e Ibai Ormaza. Seguridad e incendios Safety and fire: Luís González, Arturo Cabo. Demoliciones Demolitions: Mario Liendo. Propietario del estadio Owner of the stadium: San Mames Barria. Fecha de inicio de las obras (realizadas en 3 fases) Beginning date of the building works (done in 3 stages): junio 2011. Fecha de finalización del aforo completo Finishing date of the entire capacity: agosto 2014. Capacidad Capacity: 53.500 espectadores. Localidades hospitality Hospitality seats: 3.000. Sky boxes Sky boxes: hasta 100. Fotografía Photography: Aitor Ortiz.
César A. Azcárate Gómez

Aitor Ortiz