Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Photo © Marcus Bredt
Picture © gmp
Picture © gmp
Picture © gmp
Picture © gmp

Estádio Mineirão

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Belo Horizonte , Brazil

Belo Horizonte is the third largest city in Brazil and capital of the federal state of Minas Gerais (General Mines). It is also an important industrial center for iron ore, metallurgy and textiles. The stadium (it was officially named the Governor Magalhães Pinto Stadium, after a politician of the time) and the smaller multifunctional hall next door are therefore respectively nicknamed the Mineirão (big miner) and Mineirinho (little miner).

The Mineirão and Mineirinho are directly adjacent to the Lagoa da Pampulha, an artificial lake created by Mayor Juscelino Kubitschek in the 1940s. Most of the early works of Oscar Niemeyer (the church of São Fransisco de Assis, the Yachting Club, the Casa do Baile, the Golf Club, the Casino and Kubitschek’s own home) are dotted around it. This is where the friendship between Niemeyer and Kubitschek first developed that led to the construction of Brasília fifteen years later, by which time Kubitschek had become President of Brazil.

The Mineirão Stadium was built between 1963 and 1965 to plans by Eduardo Mendes Guimarães Jr. and Caspar Garetto. With its sculpturally rhythmic façade of expressive concrete bulkheads, the stadium is now listed as a national monument. It is today the home of two historic first-division Brazilian clubs – Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro Esporte Clube.

The scheme for the modernization and renovation of the stadium for the World Cup in 2014 has been entrusted to a consortium of von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp), architects Gustavo Penna of Belo Horizonte and structural engineers schlaich bergermann und partner, with Gustavo Penna being responsible for the surrounding terraced development and gmp taking care of the actual stadium.

The scheme aims to adapt the historic building to the modern requirements of a football arena functionally, technically and from an infrastructure viewpoint. It also aims to add a lightweight roof structure to the existing fairfaced concrete of the upper tier so as to provide shelter for all seats.

The planned measures basically pursue the objective of preserving the character of the existing expressive concrete structure. The functional and spatial additions will be inserted into this structure as independent elements. As the cutting edge of the latest technology in design and materiality, they will contrast, interpret and underline the character of the historic structure of the 60s.

The existing lower-tier terraces for standing spectators will be replaced to increase the total capacity of the stadium to almost 70,000 seats. The new lower tier, which will have ideal sighting geometry and be as close as possible to the pitch, also contains all the newly designed FIFA-compatible functional areas. The historic upper tier, which together with the fairfaced concrete roof forms a harmonious unit, will be retained and renovated. In the region of the main stand on the west side of the stadium, two stories of boxes will be inserted between the upper tier and the new lower tier, which will be approx. 1.5m lower than at present.

The new stand roof starts out as an ultra-lightweight ring cable structure beneath the extant partial roof over the upper tier. The design envisages partly fitting the translucent covering with solar cells to provide shade and generate electricity. The surrounding compression ring and the new supports required to carry the load are being implemented as a separate system and closely follow the historic load-bearing structure. That leaves the characteristic external appearance of the listed structure intact and unimpaired.

The high regard for the existing stadium, sensitive functional reorganization and circumspect renovation are for us an expression of a sustainable view of architecture. That the historic mining city of Belo Horizonte has readily taken on board the concept of a sustainable World Cup shows the importance of these issues in modern Brazilian society. Even the decision not to build a spectacular new structure and to renovate the existing stadium instead was the first important step towards an integrated ecological approach. This means that existing infrastructure can be retained and extended, synergies exploited and the primary energy consumption minimized. The first steps have been taken towards certification of compliance with international Green Building Standards. Other measures will follow in respect of energy and water consumption, the eco-balance sheet of materials used, the installation of efficient service plants and ongoing monitoring during subsequent operation.

In sum, progress is seen wholly as a continuance of tradition. The end result will be a re-interpretation of the historic Mineirão Stadium evolved from the nature of the location and the existing structure, as a sustainable, integrated scheme.

Design: Volkwin Marg and Hubert Nienhoff with Martin Glass, 2008
Project Management: Martin Glass, Lena Brögger, Maike Carlsen
Project Management, Brazil: Robert Hormes
Director of gmp do Brazil: Ralf Amann
Team members (alphabetical): Sophie-Charlotte Altrock, Martina Maurer-Brusius, Silke Flaßnöcker, Ruth Gould, Claudio Aceituno Husch, Juliana Kleba-Rizental, Jochen Köhn, Martin Krebes, Helge Lezius, Veit Lieneweg, Lucia Martinez Rodriguez, Tobias Mäscher, Adel Motamedi, Dirk Peissl, Lisa Pfisterer, Ivanka Perkovic, Camila Preve, Florian Schwarthoff, Katerine Witte

In cooperation with
schlaich bergermann and partners, Stuttgart;
Gustavo Penna Arquiteto e Associados, Belo Horizonte, Engserj, Belo Horizonte

Structural design of roof: schlaich bergermann and partners – Knut Göppert with Knut Stockhusen and Miriam Sayeg
Structural design of stadium bowl: Engserj, Belo Horizonte
Services engineering (concept and detailed design): b.i.g. Bechtold Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH; Lumens, Belo Horizonte; STE, Belo Horizonte
Landscaping and podium (concept and scheme design): Gustavo Penna Arquiteto a Associados, Belo Horizonte

approx. 66,000

Length of stadium
approx. 280 m

Width of stadium
approx. 220 m

Height of stadium
approx. 23.60 m

Construction period

LEED Certified

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