Way back in 1966 when England one its only FIFA World Cup, the venerable Wembley Stadium was the most important sports and entertainment venue in Britain. The challenge in reinventing it for a new century was to build on its extraordinary heritage and yet create a venue that would be memorable and magical in its own right. With 90,000 seats, standing almost four times the height and covering twice the area of the original, the new stadium is the largest covered arena in the world.
Photography: Nigel Young | Architecture: Foster + Partners
One of the things that make the stadium special is the retractable roof, which ensures that the spectator experience is comfortable in all weathers. When the roof is open it ensures that the turf receives sufficient sunlight and air to keep it in perfect condition, while in poor weather it can be closed to cover the entire seating bowl. The roof is supported structurally by a nearly 440 foot high arch that soars above the stadium. An iconic replacement for the old building’s twin towers, floodlit at night it is a strong symbol for Wembley and an instantly recognizable London landmark. The stadium’s facilities are designed to maximize spectator enjoyment; the seats are larger than before, with much more leg-room.
The highest tiers are easily accessed via escalators; and the concourse that wraps around the building can provide catering for 40,000 spectators at any one time.