A new home for a football team
Studio ESA Architectes
Cordeel & Heijmans
After five years of work at a cost of 45 million euros, the Sint Truiden stadium now has a capacity of more than 14,000 spectators and offers a range of services on a par with Europe’s most modern sports facilities. The architectural project was developed by the practice ESA Architecten in cooperation with Simoni Architecten for the interior design.
Alongside modernisation of the existing structure and the work done on the stands, a new wing has been built consisting of two floors with retail spaces connected to an underground car park. One floor up there is a retail space hosting a number of major fashion brands and an area set aside for exclusive use by the players. The fitness centre, open to players, gym members and guests staying at the Stayenhotel, is situated at the centre of this floor.
On the next floor up there are twenty-one suites, which can be converted into hotel rooms, meeting rooms or offices when matches are not being played.
Like the existing building, the new volume was built with a loadbearing concrete structure and a brick infill system.
The new functional layout enables the stadium to be run as an efficient business operation. Around seven hundred and fifty people are employed in the new spaces, from event organisation managers to the checkout staff at the Albert Heijn supermarket. And that’s without counting the staff working in the reception hall located above the suites, one of the most interesting spaces in the entire complex. „The hall extends along the entire length of the pitch. It has a floor space of around 3,750 m², a length of 120 metres and a width of 35 metres,“ explained architect Robrecht Asnong from ESA Architecten. „We designed it with movable walls so as to be able to rearrange the volumes, allowing up to three different events to be held at the same time. We thought long and hard about how we could make everything as multifunctional as possible. For example, we installed a dedicated freight elevator to simplify catering supply operations.“
Along with a strong focus on all aspects of public safety and mobility both inside the facility and on the multifunctional stands, the architects designed all the interior spaces – from the reception areas to the foyer and the relaxation and retail spaces – with a precision and taste that would not be out of place in a luxury hotel. The more contemporary solutions are counterbalanced by materials and accessories that blend in with the history of the stadium. The surface coverings consist of a combination of modern materials and old oak benches, which were used to create the design of the various countertops and reception desks.
The floor coverings in the changing rooms, the fitness centre and the lounge area were renovated using the Walks/1.0 porcelain tile collection from Floor Gres in a choice of Naturale and Soft surface finishes. These highly wear-resistant surfaces are ideal for exterior areas and offer clean and rigorous interpretations of stone surfaces and natural textures, enhanced in particular by the colour choices. These materials lend a touch of Italian style to a project that has modernised and restored competitiveness to one of Belgium’s most important sports facilities.
Naturale e Soft