The history of the 'Grand Woodlands’ (in Hungarian: "Nagyerdő") of Debrecen, Hungary goes back to hundreds of years. Today, it is a Natura2000 protected green area and the most important park of the city. Nagyerdei Stadium, designed by BORD Architectural Studio, has become the catalyst for it's development with a wide range of recreational functions. The main design goal was to create a unity with the forest and a transition to the surroundings by an infinite spatial concept.
Nagyerdei Stadium emerges and originates from the surroundings, being aware of its long history and transforming an abandoned, desolate place into a prestigious one. The very first ‘stadium’ of Hungary used to operate here from 1933 to 1970. This former facility had been working as a football and athletic court surrounded by ramparts. Built as a contemporary layer on a site with a long history, the project has brought new life to an 80-year-old tradition.
For our Studio, the most important issue was to find out what the stadium of the future should be like. An important aspect was to answer the question how this stadium could be connected to a human-scale city like Debrecen and how it could be reconciled with the extraordinary values and potentials of the landscape. The answer is an open, clear, dynamic and flexible building with the intention of focusing on the direct experience of a live game.
The revitalization of the whole park became essential to us.
As a result, the Nagyerdei Stadium was built as a symbolic object taking care of its natural environment and human scale. Its ambiance is full of energy, and it is a responsible, but humble artistic production. In order to build it into the collective memory of the users’ group, we created multifunctional common spaces on the ground floor: restaurants and cafés with open-air terraces to serve all visitors of the ‘Grand Woodland’.
The forest appeared as a closed mass around the existing ramparts. To dissolve this characteristic line, a bridge-like structure meanders at the height of the tree canopies and leads to the entrances. The energy of this journey into the woods symbolically tensions the whole concept, rhythmically alternating spacious and narrow spaces that ultimately end up in the bowl of the grandstand.
The forest is visible from each point of the bowl, making the stadium and the forest inseparable.
Leaving behind this floating pathway, the main attractions, the football pitch and the grandstand can be reached through a relatively narrow corridor designed with the ratios of Le Corbusier’s Modulor. This way, the crowd is fragmented into individuals before being integrated into the community again when crossing the unique, section-wide openings of the grandstand.
The structure determined many aspects during the design process, and now it has a form, that is close to a regular bowl with cross-sections of parabolic lines, to ensure the ideal vision of the pitch for every single spectator.
The slightly asymmetrical concrete elements of the grandstand seem to be floating above the surface of the pitch. With the curved corners, the bowl is now slightly similar to an auditorium of a theatre, and for that, it has been called ‘the opera house of football’.
Unity and cohesion can be felt inside, while being distinct from the surrounding environment. The floating membrane structure emerges between the canopies of the trees creating a homogenous appearance. As a result, the stadium has become an iconic and characteristic building for the city, which grabs attention and endorses respectful attitude to both its environment and its people.
- Project name Debreceni Nagyerdei Stadion
- Location Debrecen, Hungary
- Capacity 20 020
- Budget 12.5 billion forint (or $56 million / €43 million)
- Completion 2014
- Project Development Nagyerdei Stadion Reconstruction Ltd.
- General Design BORD Architectural Studio
- Head Architect Péter Bordás
- Architect Team Róbert Benke, Róbert Gulyás, Annamária Holovits, Barnabás Láris, Tamás Mezey, Júlia Szendrői, Tamás Tolvaj, KataZih
- Landscape Architecture Gardenworks Ltd.
- Mechanical Engineering Zoltán Hollókövi, Sándor Farkas
- Structural Engineering Hydrastat Engineering Office Ltd.
- General Construction Consortium of Hajrá Debrecen
- Photograghs György Palkó, Tamás Bujnovszky