Steven Wilbrenninck, the construction manager for FC Barcelona’s Nou Espai Barça project, shared some thoughts on the complications of constructing facilities whilst hosting event operations.

He presented to an audience of industry experts at TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit 2019 in London last month, explaining that the €600m (£506m/$668m) programme has gathered pace, and the “extraordinary” challenge the club faces by keeping its doors open during construction.

The programme envisages the redevelopment of the Camp Nou, and the creation of the Barça Campus, which involves reconfiguring the club’s famous stadium to expanding and opening the concourses up to the city, removing architectural barriers and introducing measures to improve urban mobility in the vicinity of the stadium.

Wilbrenninck dived into the details of building the upper tiers to expand capacity and the phasing of the project to allow games to continue to be played at the 99,354-capacity stadium – albeit with a reduced capacity. He also discussed the addition of underground parking next to the stadium.

One of the first phased completions is the opening of the Estadi Johan Cruyff (the LaLiga club’s mini-stadium), which Wilbrenninck said had provided useful insights into project delivery, serving as a testbed for the main works on Camp Nou and its surrounding precinct.

The first part of the plan was completed in August when the 6,000-seat Estadi Johan Cruyff opened its doors. The new Estadi Johan Cruyff (pictured below) is the new home of the Barça B and women’s teams, as well as the club’s U19 side when it plays in European competitions.

At this stage the project team has focused on enabling works including the provision of new mains power supplies across the campus. Given the historical nature of some sections of the stadium a key element of the remodelling will involve adding structural steel elements – including braces and supports – in areas where concrete integrity is below par.

One significant structural element is the widening of the pitch access tunnel to allow better access for event and concert load-ins. Concepts for the exterior lighting and unique eaves (ribbon cladding) – both of which will form a key part of the future visual brand of Camp Nou – are now being explored.

Wilbrenninck explained that the decision to remodel and modernise the current Camp Nou, rather than knock it down and build a new one, was based on several factors, including the already robust transport links to the city, as well as the cost of buying materials to build an even bigger stadium being significant.

Wilbrenninck said during his presentation: “We believe that our venues should deliver a rich, memorable and sustainable experience for their visitors and the best possible business returns for the needs of their stakeholders.”

 

Images: FC Barcelona