The love of football unites the small town of Kalmar in everyday life as well as on special occasions. The people of Kalmar have long dreamt of a suitable stage on which their passion could be played out. The need for a new stadium became apparent when the Kalmar Football Club was forced to borrow a competing team’s home stadium to host international games. The team had out-grown its stadium. The project for a new stadium thus began to take shape.
The vision was a monolithic form that would radiate the same warm, passionate red as Kalmar Football Club’s team colours; a strong, transparent form that would both gather and disperse the experience of the game far beyond its boundaries; a spaceship that had landed to mark the beginning of a new era in Kalmar’s history. With the stadium’s location along the E22 motorway, in an up-and-coming part of the city, Guldfågeln Arena (the ‘Golden Bird’ Arena) stands tall like a new Kalmar castle that symbolises the new, expanding and modern Kalmar. Flexibility, generosity and intimacy have been key words in the design process. The arena is first and foremost a football stadium where proximity to the game is a priority. However, the space is designed to be multi-functional, and can host events such as exhibitions, concerts and other performances.
The challenge of this project has been to create a sense of enormous space within a relatively small stadium with only 12,100 seats (15,000 for concerts). This is made possible by an open public floor where spectators can move around freely to reach every part of the building from toilets to shops. This is a feature which is normally only found in larger stadiums. This floor is nick-named ‘Kalmar’s biggest mingle space’ by the people of Kalmar. There is even a public lounge capable of accommodating 1000 people that connects to a restaurant, corporate boxes and a conference room, all with views of the omnipresent football field on one side and the wide open landscape of Kalmar on the other. The interior’s colour scheme follows the football club’s team colours: red, white and yellow. The football field measures 105x68m and is of natural grass. It has been constructed with carefully selected materials to make sure games can be held here in early spring, late autumn or during heavy rainfall. The substrate consists of layers of gravel, sand, compost and soil. Stadium floodlights are specifically designed for HD TV broadcasting which give out 2300 lux on the field’s surface.
The Arena’s form with covered stands gives it an intimate character wherever one might be seated to enjoy the game. The design of the exterior façade, on the other hand, is a play of light and shade with moving silhouettes of the visitors within. The polycarbonate façade gives out a translucent glow when lit from within, and large projections onto the surface will add to the effects in the future. The façade material also makes spaces behind the stands seem more generous by allowing more natural light to enter the building. Through simple means and a clear choice of materials, a coherent piece of architecture which is at once open and intimate is born.
Strengthened by this realised vision, Kalmar Football Club has now doubled its fan base, and has yet to lose a game at Guldfågeln Arena at the time of writing.Location: Kalmar, Sweden
Client: Kalmar FF/NCC
Year of Commission: 2005–2011
Project Description: New fotboll and event arena
Total BTA including football field: 35 190 sqm Photograph: Åke E:son Lindman