STADIUMS
AS A NATIONAL IDEA
18
In the opinion of Sergey Nikolaevich, the 12 arenas which hosted the FIFA World Cup were not only ultra-modern sports buildings but also architectural statements that will change the urban environment.
/ 27
ater, fire, celebratory gunfire, exotic flowers, alien spaceships like those we've seen in science-fiction films – all this, made of stone, glass and metal, was encapsulated in the Russian stadiums built specifically for the FIFA World Cup. They showcased a powerful concentration of cutting-edge engineering and architectural ideas that embodied a new-state style. The ancient Romans had the Colosseum, Louis XIV had Versailles, Joseph Stalin had Moscow skyscrapers, and we have the World Cup stadiums -- symbols of modern Russian history.

A stadium represents a collective dream, a moment of true happiness for everyone and something far more enduring than victory or defeat. Goals are scored and forgotten, but the sense of pride remains for much longer. So, of course, do the structures themselves. Colossal, loud, imposing. On days when there are no fans inside, they resemble deserted cities, stripped of their residents. Even when they are full and rocking with passion, they can appear airy, light, weightless, ready to loosen their multi-ton structures at any time and float into the sky like giant airships.

The first thing that strikes you when you look at them from the outside is that they are all different. Each one has its own character, its own relationship with time and space. These relationships evolved most easily at stadiums built on land where nothing existed except water and sky, like on Oktyabrsky Island in Kaliningrad.
Water, fire, celebratory gunfire, exotic flowers, alien spaceships like those we've seen in science-fiction films – all this, made of stone, glass and metal, was encapsulated in the Russian stadiums built specifically for the FIFA World Cup. They showcased a powerful concentration of cutting-edge engineering and architectural ideas that embodied a new-state style. The ancient Romans had the Colosseum, Louis XIV had Versailles, Joseph Stalin had Moscow skyscrapers, and we have the World Cup stadiums -- symbols of modern Russian history.

A stadium represents a collective dream, a moment of true happiness for everyone and something far more enduring than victory or defeat. Goals are scored and forgotten, but the sense of pride remains for much longer. So, of course, do the structures themselves. Colossal, loud, imposing. On days when there are no fans inside, they resemble deserted cities, stripped of their residents. Even when they are full and rocking with passion, they can appear airy, light, weightless, ready to loosen their multi-ton structures at any time and float into the sky like giant airships.

The first thing that strikes you when you look at them from the outside is that they are all different. Each one has its own character, its own relationship with time and space. These relationships evolved most easily at stadiums built on land where nothing existed except water and sky, like on Oktyabrsky Island in Kaliningrad.
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
It was more difficult for those stadiums that had to fit harmoniously into an urban setting with a long-standing ensemble of dense development, neoclassical columns and nostalgic memories. The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow or the Central Stadium in Ekaterinburg both fell into this category.

«ut there is an underlying meaning and ideological message in the debate about employing different architectural styles to preserve a historical legacy. This can be interpreted as: officially, Russian football has existed since 1911. Over the intervening years, many things have happened, and many things have changed. We will not forget our victories or our defeats – we care about all of them equally – but we will not adopt a museum mentality either. Therefore, history is present at the World Cup only in the form of restored facades. Inside the stadiums everything is state-of-the-art and features the latest technologies.

It is important that rational pragmatism lies at the heart of these sports facilities. They are designed not just to be admired from the outside but to be used for events other than football. We need to let them bed in, develop and fill out with food courts. We need to watch them come alive with the joyful sounds of thousands of fans, who have swapped their usual club colours for the patriotic tricolour, chanting, "Go, Russia!" as is the case, for example, with the Spartak Stadium.

The main achievement of this World Cup was that for the first time in many years Russian stadiums became a place where people had an opportunity to feel united as one nation and where the players, even after defeat, could consider themselves national heroes. At the same time, the structures themselves helped increase a sense of national pride.
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Look how the giant dome of the St Petersburg Arena gives way to a bright green pitch that resembles a precious emerald on a velvet case surrounded by stands. Or take the Volgograd Arena, similar to the golden tsarist tiara when illuminated at night, floating above the Volga River. There was much discussion and anxiety about whether the stadium would blend in with the historical landscape of the Mamayev Kurgan or not. The pitch needed to be lowered by five metres, but now the structure does not obstruct the view of the majestic figure of Motherland from the water.

Kazan Arena stadium resembles a bird's-eye view of the blossoming petals of a water lily. Yet from ground level, of course, not many people can appreciate this. The giant outside screen, from where all the goals and other action were broadcast, could be used by those who were unable to get tickets for the matches.

The most 'galactic' stadium was, of course, Samara Arena. The resemblance to a giant spacecraft is no accident: the city straddling the Volga River is the Russian national centre for space and aircraft construction.

The most 'radiant' of the 12 stadiums was the Mordovia Arena stadium in Saransk, standing on the bank of the Insar River. From the outside it looks like a bagel with a reddish-brown crust. Experts say that the colour symbolises a fox, pictured on the coat of arms of Saransk. In general, this palette is typical of the national crafts of the Mordvins community. It's an uplifting feeling to look at this scattering of red freckles on a white background.

In addition to enhancing the sense of national pride, the World Cup stadiums served another important function. They were a powerful tool in countering the vexed Russian concept of the "province" and in boosting local pride, because having a world-class stadium in the centre of the city meant the place you called home was the centre of attention for the watching world.
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
The success of the World Cup proved that everything was constructed as it should have been. Ambitiously, perhaps, as happens in Russia maybe more than anywhere, but at the same time as a dream for the future. Of course, in future we will see the stadiums a lot less on TV and in the media. After a month of absolute monopoly, football will give way to other news, which means that the stadiums will move from the front to the back pages. But as long as the ecstatic roars from the stands are still in our ears, let's continue to admire them.

After all, that's where the matches took place, where the winning goals were scored and where we spent the happiest month of 2018.