An ultra-white football paradise
The home team of Ghent, the capital of Eastern Flanders, can rightly be proud of their football stadium, Ghelamco Arena, which was officially opened in July 2013 in the presence of the royal family.
The stadium has a seating capacity of 20,000 and was built by the Belgian architecture and engineering practice Bontinck. The distinctive, eye-catching interior design, created by Mac Stopa from the Polish practice Massive Design, has won a number of accolades, including Best of Year Honoree Award in the public spaces category from Interior Design magazine, the Grand Prix of the 9th edition of Saint-Gobain Gypsum International Trophy Awards, and the 35th Interiors Award in the sports building category from the magazine Contract. At the presentation ceremony held last January in New York, the jury noted that the 14 winning projects displayed «a distinctive sense of place» and a «powerful design concept closely linked to the characteristics and architecture of the building». Commenting on the Ghelamco Arena in particular, they noted that the project highlights the team’s white and blue colours while creating a progressive work of architecture that engages with fans and «looks like a football paradise». Mac Stopa was commissioned by Belgium-based real estate investor Ghelamco NV to design all the interior spaces, including the graphic and lighting design, over an area of around 20,000 sq.m. This included the entrance lobby and ticket office, the lounge and bar area, and the players’ changing rooms and spa zone, complete with massage and relaxation rooms.
The keynote of the project is the predominance of the colour white and the sinuous plaster acrylic material that extends up the columns in the entrance lobby as far as the suspended ceiling, where blue LEDs highlight islands in relief and empty spaces allow a visual connection with the upper floor.
This dreamlike space is paved with Micron 2.0 tiles from ImolaCeramica, full-body porcelain in an extra-large size chosen in the dazzling dominant white colour and a polished finish, its glossy effect amplifying the reflected light and accentuating the intentionally artificial atmosphere. The same tiles, but in a bold black colour and high-gloss finish, are used in the corridors leading to the escalators, delimited by two side rows of white tiles in a matt finish. A cascade of white panels (in a shape reminiscent of the individual pentagonal segments that are stitched together to form a football) serves as an acoustic and decorative filter for the reinforced concrete ceiling illuminated by a suffused blue light.