Stadium Spotlight: Stade de France That Never Was

In 1995, the final decision had to be made on the design for the Stade de France, to host the 1998 World Cup final and become the new national stadium. Choosing between the two finalist designs, outgoing prime minister Edouard Balladur decided to go with Michel Macary’s design: the one we now know as the Stade de France, which is nice enough.

But boy, look at what at could have been if Balladur had gone with the other design by Jean Nouvel (perhaps France’s most celebrated architect, who later initiated and won legal action against the government for flouting European free competition laws in their selection process). Here’s his design:

Stade de France - Nouvel design

Looks straightforward enough, right?  Look again. And again. And again. Below, the renderings show that Nouvel had come up with what he called

a radical solution that resolves the problem of the angle of view onto the playing fields and ensures optimal field lighting. The stadium is not partially modifiable- it is 100% flexible. A complementary flexibility is included: the sliding roof maximizes sunshine on the field and shades the stands in summertime. The underside of the grandstands is lined with retractable awnings that hang from the level of the stands. The stadium will be for between 25 and 80,000 spectators.

So, you know, just in case you ever need a stadium where the stands, roof and pretty much everything else moves, you know who to call.

Stade de France - Nouvel design
Stade de France - Nouvel design
Stade de France - Nouvel design
Stade de France - Nouvel design
Stade de France - Nouvel design

5 thoughts on “Stadium Spotlight: Stade de France That Never Was

  1. Rob

    Wow, that design looks much more intimate and would really celebrate the architectural genius that France can posses at some times.

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see a stadium like this pop up in the future though.

  2. Adrian Ludbrook

    Cost overrun indeed, but if any country could pull it off it would be the French. They don’t get bogged down in red tape, enquiries, public objections etc that blight every project in the UK, where most projects get scaled back (2012 Olympics anyone?) because before the first foundation can be laid we’ve spent several million on a third party report on how we can avoid scaring Mrs Johnson’s cat or upsetting an ants nest during construction. The French government just up and run with their ‘grands projets’, that’s why the Eurostar used to run at 300 km/h in France, 200 km/h in the Channel Tunnel and 100 km/h in the UK whilst we argued for 15 years over what route would upset the least amount of Tory voters. The tunnel opened in the early 90′s, the UK section of high speed track and the dedicated London terminus didn’t open until this year!

    It’s a crying shame as in this country we have the likes of Norman Foster, the best architect in the world right now, and he has to ply a lot of his trade abroad (including France – the recently opened highest road bridge in the world was a Norman Foster design) instead of designing a Britain for the 21st century.

    Anyway, rant over, and for once a missed opportunity from our Gallic cousins. That design makes the Stade de France look positively middle of the road. From the country that gave us family cars with air suspension and the Pompidou Centre I thought they would have lapped up the chance of having the world’s first ‘Rubik’s Stadium’.

  3. JLM

    One of the great “what-if” civic projects of the last 20ish years. A great many top-level architects have tackled stadium design in that period, very few have re-approached the concept of public gathering via arena seating like Nouvel did.