Stadia: The Collective Spaces of the 21st Century?
News that the NHL 2012/2013 season will start this week after a 113-day lockout is dominating the media, proving just how deep an impact sports has on our national psyche. It’s inspired us to think about athletics as a real community building force, and athletic facilities as innovative structures that push the boundaries of design.
In premodern times, stadia served community hubs. People in ancient Greece flocked to sporting events, which were momentous occasions held in honour of the gods. One of today’s most enduring architectural icons, the Colosseum in Rome, was built as an arena accommodating some 50,000 spectators.
The culture of sport as we know it came into its own around the beginning of the 20th century. The establishment of the modern Olympic Games, the NHL, the NFL, and the FIFA World Cup led to a sweeping infatuation with sports and franchise teams, and athletics became a vital part of our social reality.
Athletic facilities today are some of the most technically challenging, expensive, and iconic structures in our cities. Have stadia become, as Rod Sheard, principal architect of the London 2012 Olympic Games stadium, declared “the cathedrals of the 21st century”?
[Top Image: Flickr user CCNZ]