#SBS24 next month in Manchester! Welcome Wembley Stadium, Oxford United, Juventus FC, Sodexo Live!, Croke Park, Sviby, Stadio Algarve, Keppie Design, Everbank Stadium, Kulture City, PAM, Duracell/Procell, Trusts Arena, Worldpay, Suncorp Stadium... Join them
Driving your revenues, sustainability and fan experience: #SBS24 – 15th annual TheStadiumBusiness Summit in Manchester on 17-18-19 June

Design & Development

RUSG claims first with stadium design competition

RUSG’s proposed stadium site

Featured image credit: Royale Union Saint-Gilloise

Belgian Pro League football club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (RUSG) has teamed up with its chief architect Brussels Bouwmeester/Maître Architecte (BMA) to launch a design competition for its proposed new stadium – a concept it claims is a first for the country.

RUSG, currently top of the Pro League and a rising force in Belgian football in recent years, said the open architecture competition aims to appoint a co-designer for the integration of Union’s future stadium into its surroundings at the proposed Bempt site in the Municipality of Forest.

This is said to represent the first time a public design competition related to the development of a football stadium has been launched in Belgium. Candidates can present their design proposals through to November 6.

On November 14 a shortlist of four candidates will be asked to file final proposals by December 22, with the goal of choosing a partner in January. The new stadium’s final design is expected in June 2024, with a permit application to then be submitted to local authorities.

The project to develop a new stadium has been ongoing for several years. In 2020, Union teamed up with ESA and KSS to analyse the possibilities of the chosen site in Bempt. Union said the visual identity of the stadium will have to take into account the already designed concept and the reasonably limited site footprint.

Besides aesthetics, the main task of the chosen co-designer will be to smoothly integrate the future stadium into its urban environment. Union stated the “express wish” of the club and the municipality is to preserve the landscape quality of Bempt park and not to deteriorate it, even with up to 16,000 visitors during peak times. The stadium should also be an asset for locals and its wider surroundings beyond match days.

Philippe Bormans, CEO of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, said: “Every Union match, the Stade Joseph Marien at Chaussée de Bruxelles in Forest still exudes atmosphere, conviviality and history. Unfortunately, the stands and infrastructure no longer meet the standards of a modern football club at the highest level in Belgium, as well as in Europe.

“The stadium and part of the surrounding Duden Park are listed, which means that much-needed adjustments cannot be implemented. The Unionists deserve a new football temple and we have now taken the next step in that direction. The chief architect is supporting the club in its search for a co-designer and in this way guarantees quality architecture.”

State Secretary for Urbanism and Heritage, Ans Persoons, added: “With this architecture competition for a football stadium, we show that quality is our main concern. That is also what a top-tier club like Union deserves. When everyone is on the same page, we can definitely achieve major things in Brussels.

“My predecessor Pascal Smet took on the stadium project and I am continuing his work as a facilitator between the club and the municipality. We want the stadium to become not only a new warm home for supporters, but also a good neighbour in the district.”

The club’s success in recent years has led to renewed assessment of its stadium situation, with the 8,000-capacity Stade Joseph Marien deemed unsuitable. The stadium opened in 1919 and was redeveloped between 2016 and 2018.

Union in July said it was hoping to submit a planning application for a new stadium by mid-2024 as talks continued with the Municipality of Forest. The development came after Union in February expressed its disappointment after local authorities in the Municipality refused to support the club’s plans for a new stadium.

RUSG revealed at the time that it had learned via reports in the media that its offer to build a new stadium in Forest had received a “negative response” from the mayor and the council. The club had presented its vision for a new stadium in January.