The cutting edge architecture of Cluj Arena football stadium

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

Founded in 1919, U Cluj is one of the oldest and popular football teams in Romania and now has the most modern stadium in the country. The choice for innovative architecture may come as a surprise for an almost centennial club, that is one of the emblems of Cluj, the largest city of Transylvania, known for its conservatism and for its attachment to its rich history.

The stadium is smaller and much less expensive than National Arena in Bucharest, only 33.000 seats compared to 55.000, but the exterior design greatly surpasses that of the arena built in the Capital almost in the same time. The distinctive feature of the stadium is the rounded steel facade, that seems to be floating suspended on discreet pillars. The stands are separated, creating the illusion of a morphing object that is moving with the four pieces in the process of forming a perfectly rounded shape. The metal shining sheets of the facade have spaces between them, that resemble the gills of a shark, with only the glass cube of the official entrance. The general sensation is that of aerodynamic shape, around which the air flows, while the metal shine also underlines the modernity of this project.

The architectural bureau that created the design is Dico and Tiganas, a local firm that also created the new stands for the rival team CFR Cluj as well as several office and residential buildings. The modern style of firm’s architects was also on display in the architecture of several shopping malls like Liberty Center in Bucharest or Tiago Malls in various cities.

The stadium benefits from the surroundings, being built in the largest natural park in Cluj, named George Baritiu, a splendid park with a lake and secular trees right next to Somes river. The local authorities intend to turn this place into something comparable with Olympia Park in Munich, by adding an indoor sports hall and a tall glass office building. The municipality financed 70% of the 45 million euro price tag, the rest being a contribution of the Romanian Government. During the time the stadium was built, Emil Boc, former mayor or Cluj, was prime-minister after which he was reelected mayor of Cluj. The local council registered the name “Cluj Arena” as trademark.

The new stadium, ready in 2011, was built on the same spot as Ion Moina Stadium, who had become obsolete and a real danger for spectators. The new stadium respects the UEFA standards for Elite class and also has a running tracks that is suitable for international athletic competitions. The stadium is also used for concerts, with bands like Scorpions, Roxette and Smokie having played here in front of large audiences.

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