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Antonio Cruz

Founder Cruz y Ortiz


Project: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

The striking new home for Spanish football side Atletico Madrid has hosted its first match – a 1-0 win over La Liga side Malaga.

The club invested a reported €300m (US$360m, £265m) on the 68,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano, replacing the Vicente Calderón Stadium – its home of over 50 years.

Spanish architecture practice Cruz y Ortiz were responsible for the project. Rather than building a new stadium from scratch, they were tasked with renovating and expanding the existing Estadio Olímpico de Madrid – a 20,000-seat athletics venue built in 1994.

Parts of the original concrete stand have been incorporated into the new stadium, with much of the remainder demolished in order for new stands to be added, more than trebling the capacity.

“Our aim was not to recreate the famous atmosphere or appearance of the Calderón,” the studio’s co-founder Antonio Cruz told CLAD. “This was a new proposition, and our responsibility was to find something new to help the club take another step forward. At this moment, Atletico are already one of the top teams in Europe, and this stadium can take them to the very top.”

Cruz said the biggest challenge was unifying the existing elements of the Estadio Olímpico structure with the newly constructed ones.

“Our answer was to cover it with a new roof,” he said. “It brings everything together as one building. We’ve adopted a new technique never used before to make a canopy membrane – using an exterior steel and double height compression ring, an interior traction ring and two sets of radial cables. It’s the most innovative part of this project.”

The open tensile structure, built by construction firm FCC, weighs around 6,336 tons, and the membrane occupies a surface area of 83,053sq m.

Advanced technology has also been integrated into the new stadium, including three jumbo screens, a videomapping facade on the exterior of the stadium, and 1,200 wifi elements to ensure easy internet access.

“The club wanted advanced technology from the beginning,” said Cruz. “We enjoyed and appreciated that challenge. We were set the target of building one of the five best stadiums in the world and a building that can be used long into the future, hosting top national and international finals.”

Other features of the stadium include a fan plaza open on matchdays, where spectators can enjoy music, entertainment and interviews with notable club figures. A retail megastore will be among 16 commercial outlets, and a club museum is also planned.

Atletico were permitted by La Liga to play their first three games of the season away from home, allowing workers to add the final touches to the Wanda Metropolitan before it officially opened in mid-September.

New stadiums are also in the pipeline for La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, with architecture firms Nikken Sekkei and gmp architekten, respectively, designing those projects.

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CLAD people: Antonio Cruz
Antonio Cruz shares the challenges of designing Atletico Madrid's stunning new stadium
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