A Theatre for Football

Along the motorway A9, just south of Alkmaar, lies the stadium of AZ football club. The original stadium was realized in 2007, based on a design by the architectural studio ZJA. This design is based on two guiding concepts. The first is to provide all the different groups of users (spectators on the stands, in the skyboxes, the home team, the guests, the press, the referees, etc.) with their own spaces and routes inside the building. However, they encounter each other where necessary, like at the concession stands, the cafeteria, the lounges and the fan shops. The second concept was to make sure every seat has the optimal line of sight on the pitch. Every seat is oriented to the centre spot of the field. The concrete elements of the stands are curved and form an oval around the pitch. This really is a theatre for football. The stands are placed close to the field. The majority of seats have been situated where spectators most prefer to sit: right behind the goals and on either side of the pitch.

A New Roof

On august 10th 2019 a summer storm caused a section of the roof of the AFAS stadium AZ in Alkmaar to collapse. AZ football club wanted to have a new roof as soon as possible and contacted the architectural studio ZJA, Royal HaskoningDHV and IGG to ensure that the 2020/2021 competition could be conducted in a renovated stadium.

The design for the new roof is based on an entirely different principle than the previous one. The original roof was self-supporting, and followed an undulating line, in response to the distribution of seats and the resulting lines of sight on the pitch. In the design for the renovated roof the emphasis is on optimal use of the space inside the stadium, resulting in a roof that is supported by crane-like constructions situated outside the exterior skin. This new roof advances much further over the stadium than the previous one, offering more protection against rain and wind.

More Seats: A Better Spatial Experience

From the very beginning of the process, ambitious ideas about the future of the AFAS stadium AZ have been circulating. AZ football club envisions a future in which the stadium has a wide array of additional functions, such as convention halls, offices and a hotel. In short, it could be a destination for many more purposes than watching a football match.

The plans for the current renovation do not quite go that far, but the necessity to build a new roof is the ideal opportunity for a thorough upgrade. First of all, this new roof accommodates the desire for more seats, and this is done by raising the roof, and extending its reach into the stadium, which means more seats closer to the pitch enjoy weather protection. The wall behind the stands is made out of tough sheets of synthetic fabric, which can be printed with images relating to the club’s identity. More fans and situated closer to the pitch, more expressive furnishings and the possible return of terraces for standing –  together these changes will result in a more vibrant atmosphere on day of the match. The four masts supporting the electric lights will be taken down, as LED lighting will be built into the edge of the roof, a more pleasant solution for both players and fans.

Engineering and Looks

Seen from a distance this new roof will strengthen the identity of the AFAS stadium. The high backbone in brilliant white of the giant beam of 175-meters-long on the south west side is easily spotted from far away, and the crane arms made of white tubes add even greater power, strength and allure to the structure. The renovated stadium looks bigger and bolder. This is certainly the home of a confident football club eager to grow.

The new roof
Architect: ZJA
Principal: AZ Alkmaar
Contractor: BAM Bouwtechniek
Design Engineer: Royal HaskoningDHV
Finance specialist: IGG
Project management: The Stadium Consultancy
Year: 2019 – present

Project: #1109

The Stadium
Architect: ZJA
Klant: AZ Alkmaar
Client ZJA: Midrecht
Principal: AZ
Year: 2006

Award
Winner: Most Beautiful Building of the Region of Alkmaar 2008.
Nomination: Arie Kepplerprijs 2007

Project: #249