A Diamond for San Siro
The Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan, better known as San Siro – from the San Siro neighborhood where it's located - has been the home of rival football teams AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano for almost a century. Today the stadium is a highly respected sport venue and it's considered an icon by football fans around the world. In May 2016 it hosted the Champions League Final, the most prestigious football match played every year in Europe.
The stadium, owned by the City of Milan, was originally built in 1926 with its First Level of stands and it went through two major expansions in 1956, with the construction of the Second Level of stands, and in 1990 with the construction of the Third Level of stands and a roof for the FIFA World Cup held in Italy.
During the past months, soon after both the Milanese football teams coincidentally changed ownership, questions have risen whether the current San Siro stadium is still suitable to host high profile football matches with the necessary comforts for the spectators. The teams have then investigated several alternatives which included either the renovation of the existing building or the construction of a new venue, and there has been a public debate with the involvement of city officials in the recent weeks.
Like many other stadiums around the world that went through a very effective renovation, JMA believes that the current San Siro has all the potential to be converted in a contemporary building with all required modern facilities.
The remodeling proposal for the San Siro stadium starts from the analysis of the contemporary needs of both football clubs and spectators, with the goal of integrating all the new functions into the existing structure.
As a first step it was necessary to define which parts were worth to keep and highlight, and which others should be dismissed. Because of the difficulty in reaching it, the lack of services, the uncomfortable seats and the distance from the football pitch, the bulky Third Level of stands with the eleven supporting concrete towers is then removed along with the existing roof. With this operation the rounded-edges elegant volume of the 1956 structure is once again free to appear with its iconic "infinite" ramps that surrounds each side of the building.
In the proposed site plan the red reticular beams supporting the existing roof are re-used to frame the main boulevard connecting the subway station in the new landscaped plaza, which sits above the underground car parks, directly accessible from the existing vehicles underpass.
After the demolition of the roof and the Third Level of stands, the remodeling project of the existing structure is organized in four interventions:
1. The Anello Zero (or Zero Level of stands), is a design feature that fills the distance and height of the current first row of seating from the football pitch to make room for a new level of stands with premium seating. By lowering 2,2 meters the pitch, the additional stands follow the same section of the existing First Level and can hold 3,000 spectators in VIP seating next to the action. This area can be easily accessed from the existing Ground Floor Level.
The 3,000 extra seating will add to the 58,700 seats of the First and Second Level, reaching a total capacity 61,700 spectators for the remodeled stadium, vs the 75,000 of the current one.
2. The Diamond Roof is the new proposed cover to exalts the original shape of the stadium, starting from the top end of the ramps and wrapping the top portion of the basin-shaped structure. The faceted polycarbonate panels surround the Second Level of stands in a diamond-like shape and allow the natural light to filter into the arena. At night the backlit Diamond Roof becomes a lantern visible from distance, changing colors according to which of the two football team is playing.
3. The Base Ring is a new proposed perimeter two-level platform that takes the place freed by the demolition of the Third Level of stands. It consists of a glass boundary with a ring-like canopy that hosts the entry gates at the existing Ground Level, and a Basement Level to host several facilities as the restaurants, the teams' museums, the teams' official stores and the media areas.
The canopy above the Ground Level traces the footprint of the demolished Third Level of stands and is covered with a green roof, leaving eleven round openings placed where once where the towers supporting the top stands. These voids are replicated on the Basement Level to create round sunken courtyards which allow natural light and air into the lower spaces. Additional round skylights placed outside the above ground ring canopy contribute to bring extra light into all the basement areas.
4. The Ramps from 1956 that reach the Second Level of stands from the Ground Floor, return to be the only façade all around the stadium after the demolition of the eleven surrounding towers. The new cladding of the ramps with composite aluminum curved modules brings strength and elegance to the design gesture all along the perimeter and integrates the linear lighting for the circulation.
The entire remodeling of the San Siro stadium will be executed during a timeframe of three years, closing large portions of the structure at different times, allowing the teams to keep playing during the seasons. The most invasive works as the removal of the existing roof will be performed during the summer breaks. Many of the new structures will be prefabricated in order to grant speed and quality in the construction site.