Foster: "We want to create the best stadium in the world"
Norman Foster has accepted the challenge of remodelling the Camp Nou and adapting it to the needs of the 21st century while respecting the essence of the original design. The architect explains the project here with passion and absolute commitment.
In an exclusive interview with www.fcbarcelona.cat and Barça TV, Norman Foster talks about the
elements and objectives that have inspired this project.
What’s your opinion of the existing Camp Nou?
"I believe that the stadium is a great building and it’s one of the inspirations for
our design. But it’s the 50th anniversary and even though the needs have been covered between
1957 and now, a long time has passed by since then. The criteria change but we will respect that
building. We won’t destroy anything. We’ll make it bigger. It’s a great building
and it has an incredible atmosphere, so in a certain way we’ll try and add to and strengthen
the best aspects. We’ll extend the asymmetrical bowl upwards and put on a roof to protect the
public. But the roof will be movable and will allow the sun to shine down”.
Why did you present your project?
"How could any architect not want to compete? Barça is an institution, an incredible
opportunity. So we were very enthusiastic and excited about doing this project and it’s
fantastic that we were finally successful”.
How would you define your proposal for the new Camp Nou?
"If I try and describe it with words it’s a bit complicated. The stadium is very
familiar to the fans so we’ll make it grow. We were inspired by it, with that fantastic
asymmetrical bowl, higher to the east. We’ll keep all of that, we’ll make it bigger,
put on a roof and improve the facilities. To reach the higher levels you can go up on escalators,
it’ll be well adapted for people with physical handicaps, we’ll increase the facilities
that are appropriate today and in the future. We want to create the best stadium in the world and
then we’ll cover it with a kind of mosaic, with an air of Gaudí. But the scales on that skin
are different, very colourful, with the colours of the Club and of Catalonia. That allows the
building to 'breathe'. And it’s an ecologically responsible building: collection of
rainwater, energy saving, the use of natural ventilation. It’ll be a good place to be”.
What was your inspiration for the design?
"The inspirations were FC Barcelona, the stadium itself, its architecture, its history, its
reputation, the city, Catalonia, the colours, the shapes...Some of these aspects can be defined,
and others are more in the spirit of the place. Those are the inspirations”.
This new stadium will be integrated in the urban environment without fences to separate it
from the street...
"It’s very soft in terms of the relationship with the surroundings. You have to
remember that it’s an extraordinary challenge to transform, make these changes without
closing off the stadium, keeping it open and allowing matches to carry on being played, without
scaffolding, without cranes. It’s not aggressive, it respects the members and it’s also
sensitive of the neighbours”.
Why do you speak about the challenge between the spiritual and the material?
"The culture of football is almost a 'modus vivendi', it’s a
passion, it’s inseparable from a certain feeling of pride in Catalonia, in the city. The
slogan ‘Més que un club’ (More than a club) is an institution. That’s the
spiritual part I mentioned. The noise, the colour, the sound, the smells...But all of this has a
physical quality, you have to be comfortably seated, it has to be a good experience, you have to be
protected from the elements, there mustn’t be anything obstructing your view. So somehow we
have to improve the facilities of the stadium while respecting and being inspired by its
architecture. We have to be concerned by the past but this is a building for the future so in that
sense it’s a modern statement”.
How will you mange it so that the building works don’t affect the normal running of
"We will avoid interrupting the normal running of the stadium thanks to an immense amount of
research with the builders, of work with the specialists, with the engineers, to develop a concept
that doesn’t need scaffolding, or cranes, so that the remodelling can be carried out during
the season. Magically, the stadium will start being transformed. This building is almost never
unoccupied, so every time there’s a match, the spectators will be able to see the progress of
the project and finally, at the last moment, what is old and what is new will finally
The complete interview with Norman Foster will be broadcast on the programme Zona Mixta on
Barça TV on Tuesday at 1.30 pm.