Buro Happold distances itself from Jakarta stadium amid FIFA row

A rendering published ahead of the stadium’s opening in 2022

Featured image credit: Buro Happold

A rendering published ahead of the stadium’s opening in 2022

Featured image credit: Buro Happold

Buro Happold has distanced itself from problems identified at Jakarta International Stadium after Indonesia’s newly built 82,000-capacity venue was found to fall short of FIFA’s required standards ahead of this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup.

Indonesia has been selected to replace Peru as the host of the tournament in November and December after the South American country failed to finish building the infrastructure necessary for the tournament.

Now Indonesia has run into problems as its Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium (SUGBK) will be hosting a concert by Coldplay during the period when the tournament is being played. Jakarta International Stadium (JIS) – which only opened last year – was lined up as a replacement, but an inspection of the facility by senior political and football administration figures identified issues with spectator access and car parking as well as the playing surface.

After widespread criticism of the stadium and those involved in its construction, global engineering and consultancy group Buro Happold amended the JIS portfolio entry on its website and issued a statement clarifying its role, citing “misinterpretations”.

“Buro Happold was not commissioned to design the stadium and did not design the stadium. Furthermore, the company was not involved in the subsequent construction,” it said.

Buro Happold said it was commissioned by Jakarta Konsultindo (Jakkon) to provide design guidance and consultancy from December 2018 to March 2019, which included the preparation of concept design guide, technical and commercial assessment, concept masterplan for the surrounding area and an implementation roadmap. Later in the process, Buro Happold was asked to review the concept design prepared by other local consultants.

It added: “In the resulting report, Buro Happold identified several areas of non-compliance with its original Concept Design Guide. In addition to the report, these areas of non-compliance were also highlighted by Buro Happold in a separate letter.”

The standard of the stadium has created a political row in Indonesia as it was the pet project of former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, now a Presidential candidate. Baswedan and his supporters are insistent that JIS does not need to be renovated and that those who claim it is deficient are attempting to smear his campaign.

An inspection party, led by Minister of Public Works and People’s Housing Basuki Hadimuljono, earlier this week adjudged that the stadium did not meet FIFA guidelines in several areas.

According to the Kompas news service, Basuki said the playing surface will be completely replaced for short-term use ahead of the tournament and switched to a different type of grass for the long-term.

Basuki also said access points to JIS would increase to six compared to just one at present. The additions include a pedestrian bridge to which one of the parking areas, a temporary train station and other crossings.

Indonesia is keen to host the FIFA U17 World Cup after being stripped of the U20 World Cup earlier this year following widespread protests across the predominantly Muslim country against Israel’s participation.