European football: Foster to give Camp Nou Gaudí-inspired facelift

European football: To celebrate the Camp Nou's 50th birthday, Norman Foster has been handed £175m to redesign the stadium.

It is the biggest stadium in Europe and has been graced by the likes of Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho. Now, Barcelona's distinctive Camp Nou stadium is to get a new look with a redesign by the award-winning British architect Norman Foster.

Lord Foster has been chosen by the Catalan club to redesign the 98,000-seater stadium at a cost of €250m (£175m).

The stadium, which celebrates its 50th birthday today, will be given a complete facelift, with a mosaic of multi-coloured tiles in blue and scarlet, the colours of the football team, and red and yellow, those of Catalonia's flag, encasing it. Presenting his plans to add a "second skin" to the stadium's outer shell, Lord Foster, 72, said he had been inspired by the trencadis, a mosaic style consisting of broken tiles made famous at the turn of the century by Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona's favourite son, whose highly individual work can be seen across the city.

In a presentation in front of stars from the club's past and present - including the 1957 team, the first to play in the existing stadium - Lord Foster said his intention was to maintain its original asymmetrical shape, designed by the Catalan Francesc Mitjans i Miró. The redesign will increase the Camp Nou's capacity to 106,000. It will also be given a retractable roof, supported by cables, which Lord Foster described as a "flexible, sustainable and ecological solution". The exterior, made of a mixture of polycarbonate and glass panels, will be able to change colour, allowing the outside of the stadium to be used for light displays at night or as a giant TV screen.

Construction work will begin in 2009 and is due to be completed by the start of the 2011-2012 season.

Lord Foster has left his mark in London and across the world with numerous high-profile projects, including the Millennium Bridge, the Greater London Authority headquarters, the Swiss Re building known as the Gherkin, Berlin's Reichstag and the Hearst building in New York. He also designed the new Wembley stadium which - through no fault of his -- ended up four years late and nearly £500m over budget. The Camp Nou redesign will not be the first landmark addition that Lord Foster has made to Barcelona's skyline. His 288-metre-tall Collserola tower already looms large over the city, and was greeted with equal amounts of delight and opprobrium when it was built for the 1992 Olympics.

Perhaps the most important element of the new-look Camp Nou is one that is guaranteed to keep football fans happy: the work will not affect any matches.


Paul Hamilos in Madrid

The GuardianTramp

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