The brief for this project was to create a ‘grand space’ for the people of Natal which would become a counterfoil to the public promenades of Brazil’s many beaches. The stadium sits within a park setting and, as well as being one of only three new stadia to be built in Brazil for the FIFA World Cup, will stage the music and cultural events of Natal. The challenge is to find a form flexible enough to accommodate all these needs, that responds sympathetically to its environment.
The structure’s undulating form responds to the climatic conditions of the location, shielding the spectators from direct sunlight, while allowing main stands to catch the prevailing on-shore breezes and air to flow into the seating bowl via ETFE louvers between the stadium ‘shells’. The upper seating tiers are separated into discrete seating blocks; these ‘petals’ are linked via a continuous undulating concourse. This arrangement gives the stadium its distinctive dramatic asymmetric form, reminiscent of the sand dunes that form its backdrop.
Drawing inspiration from the magnificent sand dunes that dominate the city of Natal, the stadium has become known as The Stadium of the Dunes. The three elements – stadium, arena and performing arts complex – are developed as a family of forms that sit on a raised ground, with the park flowing around. Not only will this striking development raise the profile of Natal nationally and internationally, the work will act as a catalyst for urban regeneration.
The arena’s design is unique. Its façade and roof are integrated and made up of 20 petal-shaped modules, designed to be higher on one of the stadium's sides, giving the impression that the sand dunes – which are common in the region – are moving. The design also enables more ventilation and light to come into the stadium.
The petal-shaped structures of the roof are made of steel trusses, covered on the outside with aluminum tiles, with thermal and acoustic insulation. Internally, they are coated with a PVC prestressed membrane. The parts are joined by translucent polycarbonate, which allows light to come through.
The Dunas Arena’s roof was also designed to capture rainwater. Gutters collect the water and take it to nine tanks below the lower stands. As a result, up to 3,000 cubic meters may be captured and reused in the lavatories and for irrigating the pitch.
Fans going to matches and events at the stadium will notice a new standard of comfort and safety. In total, there are 21 access ramps to reach each of the four stadium levels, in addition to elevators that connect the indoor car park directly with the 39 boxes. The Dunas Arena also has four lounges that can accommodate up to 1,000 people, 25 food and drink kiosks, as well as 30 restrooms.
There are four types of seats, identifiable by varying shades of blue: general public, hospitality, VIP and Executive VIP. In addition, 521 seats are reserved for people with disabilities.
“The arena is accessible at all levels, with ramps and elevators, from the box office to the changing rooms," said Charles Maia. "In the boxes and throughout the stadium there are accessible lavatories. There is a directional tactile floor from the external gate to the stands.”
A security team in the arena’s command and control center is able to monitor images recorded by 200 cameras with facial-recognition capability in the ground’s external and internal areas. The PA system is integrated with the stadium’s two 64 square meter screens, allowing for information and match statistics to be clearly displayed to the crowd.
Players will also notice improved match conditions. The Bermuda Tifton 419 grass species used for the pitch is ideal for the region's hot climate, and the drainage system allows for matches to be played even on extremely rainy days.
With the first row of stands only 15m away from the pitch, fans will be close to the action. In addition, the arena’s lighting system, which uses 306 floodlights, provides uniform and consistent visibility, eliminating shadows and facilitating TV broadcasts using Full HD technology.
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