Populous’s $121 million revamp of French soccer stadium repurposes a fuselage for the facade

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Populous’s $121 million revamp of French soccer stadium repurposes a fuselage for the facade

Home to RC Strasbourg, Stade de la Mineau will gain a sunscreen facade composed decommissioned aircraft parts, a rooftop solar array, and a bevy of new fan amenities as part of a long-awaited expansion and modernization project. (© Populous/Rey-de Crécy/Luxigon)

Kansas City, Missouri-founded global sports and entertainment venue design firm Populous has revealed its plans for a major overhaul of Stade de la Meinau, a 26,280-capacity pro football stadium in Strasbourg, the historic, Germany-bordering city on the banks of the Rhine in northeastern France.

Longtime home to Ligue 1 club Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace, the stadium was first founded in 1921 and expanded several times during the first half of the 20th century, then wholly rebuilt during the lead-up to the France-hosted 1984 UEFA European Championship. The early 1980s reconstruction of the legendary Meinau saw its capacity grow to nearly 45,000 although the stadium’s plus-sized era was relatively short-lived: Following a string of fatal fan stampedes in the ’80s, new safety regulations forced the city-owned stadium to limit the standing-only terraces flanking the entirety of the pitch, a move that nearly halved La Meinau’s total capacity and restricted the stadium from holding certain major sporting events.

aerial rendering of a soccer stadium in france
Aerial illustration of Strasbourg’s Stade de la Meinau and its enclosed east, west, and north concourses. (© Populous/Rey-de Crécy/Luxigon)

First announced in May of 2019, the Populous-led renovation (Atelier d’architecture Rey de Crecy is serving as the architect of record and OTE Ingénierie as project engineer) won’t lift La Meinau’s capacity back to its 80s-era high. It will, however, boost the capacity by 5,700 via new, removable seating tiers that bring fans closer to the pitch and a major expansion of the stadium’s south stand complete with bars and “party decks.” The concourses of the three other stands—the west will remain largely a standing terrace—will be enclosed and gain a number of new bars and eateries. A new fan zone will also be developed directly outside of the stadium.

exterior facade of a french soccer stadium
The new south stand and its shading facade built from recycled airplane fuselages. (© Populous/Rey-de Crécy/Luxigon)

The most notable attribute of the revamped stadium will be an aluminum sunshade on the south facade composed of over 47,000 square feet of retired Airbus A340 fuselage sections. The addition of the upcycled fuselage facade—an apparent first—is part of a largely sustainable scheme implemented by both the city and RC Strasbourg that aims to minimize the amount of demolition waste generated by the massive project.

A bulk of the waste that is ultimately created via dismantling sections of the existing stadium and its stands will be incorporated into the new structure. Other sustainability-minded upgrades to La Meinau are set to include a large photovoltaic array covering the roof of the expanded south stand; a rainwater harvesting system; a connection to a biomass-powered heating network, and more.

pitch of a french soccer stadium
View of the pitch and the new, more spacious stands. (© Populous/Rey-de Crécy/Luxigon)
interior area of a renovated french soccer stadium
An enclosed concourse filled with new bars, restaurants, and amenities. (© Populous/Rey-de Crécy/Luxigon)

Explaining that “sustainability has been key to our design strategy,” Francois Clement, senior principal at Populous, added in a statement that: “The renovation of La Meinau will bring Racing Club de Strasbourg’s supporters closer to the pitch in an environmentally controlled development.”

Work on the over $121 million renovation is expected to kick off in the spring of 2022 and wrap up in the summer of 2025.

As noted by the firm, which maintains European offices in London and Milan, La Meinau is the latest of several major projects in France including Parc Olympique Lyonnais (Groupama Stadium), which was completed in 2016, and the master plan, with French infrastructural company Egis Group, Paris’s winning bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.