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Leading international sports venue architecture firm, HOK, has released design details for FC Barcelona’s new arena. FC Barcelona recently selected HOK and Barcelona-based TAC Arquitectes to design the New Palau Blaugrana as part of an international architectural competition that drew responses from 19 teams.

The New Palau Blaugrana, which will have a capacity of 12,000 for sporting events and 12,500 for social and cultural events, is a key component of a broader project to improve FC Barcelona’s facilities, including a major renovation of the Camp Nou stadium, in creating the Espai Barça sports district.

Construction on the New Palau Blaugrana is expected to begin during the 2017/18 FC Barcelona basketball season and finish during the 2019/20 season. It will replace the 7,500-seat Palau Blaugrana, which opened in 1971.

John Rhodes, a London-based Director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, said:

Our design of the New Palau Blaugrana will enhance FC Barcelona’s global brand and the fan experience while connecting to other planned developments in the Espai Barça district. We are creating an immersive experience that begins the moment patrons step off the Metro and continues until they reach their seats and then through their post-event activities. The architectural language complements the energy, passion and movement of the performances taking place inside the arena and throughout this new sports and entertainment district.

The New Palau Blaugrana will be built on the current site of the Mini Estadi, a 15,276-seat stadium. The building acts as a physical and visual anchor that aligns with the district’s existing architecture while making a bold, contemporary statement. It also opens up and integrates the club’s venues into the Les Corts neighbourhood.

To engage fans beyond the arena’s walls, the design blends the indoors and outdoors. Its curvilinear form includes an elegant, metallic facade strategically connected to the immediate and wider surroundings. This transparency creates an inviting atmosphere and provides glimpses of the action inside. A large projection screen on the underside of the arena’s roof will show footage of the event underway. An outdoor concourse features concession areas that the public can enjoy 365 days a year. An open-air, street festival environment celebrates the Mediterranean climate and provides year-round revenue opportunities. Outdoor patios, public plazas and green spaces across the site, which will be vehicle-free, create informal spaces for people to gather before, during and after events.

The design maintains the current Palau’s reputation as a loud, energetic arena that provides a unique experience for European fans and the home team. HOK and TAC designed the seating bowl to emulate a theatre environment, with an asymmetrical design — the first of its kind for a basketball arena — that provides more capacity on one side. Using state-of-the-art, customised digital tools, the designers calibrated the venue and bowl geometries to achieve optimal results for viewing quality, shape and dimensions of the event spaces. The tighter, steeper and more intimate bowl provides exceptional sightlines, creates a “wall of people” and captures the noise to create an intense spectator experience and intimidating venue for visiting teams. The compact building span reduces structural costs and improves operational efficiencies. The flexible, retractable seating configuration adapts for each use.

Premium amenities include 24 VIP boxes and four sky bars/lounges that provide court views. The project also includes three independently functioning areas: an adjacent court with capacity for up to 2,000 spectators, an ice rink with seating for 800 fans and the FCB Escola academy training facilities, which include two football fields.

HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice has expertise in the design of arenas, stadiums, ballparks, training facilities and recreation centres. The group plans and designs world-class sports complexes that are the centerpieces of successful, vibrant entertainment districts. Current and recent projects include Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta; the Detroit Events Center in Detroit, Michigan; Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia; a proposed NBA and NHL arena in Seattle, Washington; the Dubai Expo 2020 masterplan in the United Arab Emirates; the AT&T Center renovation in San Antonio, Texas; Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California; the renovation of Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida; the redevelopment of Fort Regent in St. Helier, Jersey; and Shell Place in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Through a network of 24 offices worldwide, HOK provides design excellence and innovation to create places that enrich people’s lives and help clients succeed. DesignIntelligence consistently ranks HOK as a leader in sustainable, high-performance design and technology innovation.


FC Barcelona has announced that the Espai Barça jury has selected the bid by the HOK + TAC Arquitectes team as the winner of the architectural tender for the New Palau Blaugrana. The jury, formed by five members of FCB, three members of the Collegi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC) and one member of Barcelona City Council, made their decision after a careful study of the different proposals, carried out by a technical commission, in accordance with specifically established regulations and the requirements of the tender process.

The bid by HOK + TAC Arquitectes is remarkably innovative with its concept of a multi-functional Palau, and is also outstanding for its permeability, flexibility and personality. With organic geometry, it offers a fine sequence between the Palau, annex court, ice rink and the FCB Escola facilities. The winning team will now commence working together with the Barça technical teams and the Barcelona City Council to make further specifications and work further on the integration of the new installations with the rest of the Espai Barça and the city.HOK Architecture is one of the most important firms in the United States in terms of architecture and engineering, with experience of all kinds of projects, all around the world. HOK developed the American Airlines Arena in Miami, the Nationwide Arena in Ohio and the Stockton Arena in California. The team also has the experience of being the architects behind the First Direct Arena in Leeds.

Locally, Eduard Gascón of TAC Arquitectes leads a solid team with extensive experience of the development of all kinds of projects in Barcelona, such as the award winning Parc del Turó de Can Mates, the Technology Centre in Manresa and different office buildings in Barcelona.

The duo overcame rival bids from Pattern Architects + Massip-Bosch Arquitectes, GMP + GCA Arquitectes, MAKE + BCQ Arquitectes, Francisco Mangado Arquitectos + Bach Arquitectes + R. Sanabria Arquitectes + I. Paricio and Wilkinson Eyre Architects + Alonso Balaguer Riera Arquitectes. The jury congratulated all of the entrants for the high level and quality of the different bids presented for tender.

The New Palau Blaugrana

The work on the New Palau Blaugrana is expected to start in the 2017/18 season and end in the 2019/20 season. The complex on which it will stand is on the current site of the Miniestadi, next to the new Camp Nou station on Metro Line 9, and will have three areas that can operate independently. One is the huge multi-purpose pavilion, with the capacity for 10,000 spectators at sports events. The others are an auxiliary court with a capacity of 2,000 and the other is a complementary ice rink.

The capacity of 10,000 meets the requirements of the Euroleague basketball competition and the seats will be arranged to be right next to the court, thus fostering a veritable ‘wave effect’.

Spectator Services

The New Palau will have wide areas that are easily accessed and conditioned for all services that spectators might require, and will be fully adapted for persons with reduced mobility.

The requirements included the need for the main and auxiliary courts to be located on the same level, with shared locker rooms and services for athletes, with each sports section having its own compact area including all necessary services, and for there to be 18 VIP boxes and two ‘skybars’ with views of the court, one of which can also function as a restaurant. It also needs to have a 200 m2 pressroom with work areas and specific services, and for access to the court to be via three tunnels to assist with assembly and disassembly of operations for different matches and other events.

The presentation of the New Palau Blaugrana construction project will take place at a public event to be held over the next few weeks.

Espai Barça

The FC Barcelona members unanimously approved the New Espai Barça, the project to transform the Club’s facilities, including the Camp Nou, Palau Blaugrana and Miniestadi. 72.36% of members gave the ‘green light’ to the remodelling and construction of the FC Barcelona premises at this site at a referendum held on 5 April 2014.

The tenders to select the architectonic projects for the construction of the New Camp Nou and New Palau Blaugrana, which began last June 5, entered the second phase with the selection of the shortlist of candidates, and the period for them to present their architectonic proposals for each installation.

The jury selected eight teams which were mainly made up of one international and one local studio each, to prepare their proposals for the New Camp Nou, and another six teams to do the same for the New Palau Blaugrana, in accordance with the recommendations made by the technical commission, made up of the Espai Barça team and two architects from the COAC.

A total of 45 teams took part in the first round of the tender, who had to present their credentials and experience of similar projects. The jury and the Espai Barça technical committee then selected the finalists, who were presented with guidelines showing all of the information required to put their projects together, along with the regulations and criteria for the second phase and all of the documentation compiled by the Espai Barça during the last year of work.

The New Camp Nou

Over the next few weeks, the jury is set to announce the winner of the project for the New Camp Nou. The eight candidates are as follows: AECOM + B720 Arquitectes, Arup Sport + Taller d’Arquitectura Ricardo Bofill, BIG + IDOM + BAAS Arquitectes, Gensler Sport + OAB, HKS + COX + Batlle i Roig Arquitectes, KSS + Mateo Arquitectura, Nikken Sekkei + Joan Pascual i Ramon Ausió Arquitectes and Populous + MIAS Arquitectes + RCR Arquitectes.

The New Miniestadi

The Batlle i Roig Arquitectes studio won the tender for the New Miniestadi, which ended last May, and will be built at the Ciutat Esportiva training ground for a cost of 12 million euros. The Batlle i Roig Arquitectes studio, which had already taken part in the architectonic design of the Ciutat Esportiva, has designed a New Miniestadi in keeping with the requirements of the tender. It will have the capacity for 6,000 spectators, adapted to UEFA category III, with covered terraces, 600 parking spaces and independently functioning from the Ciutat Esportiva. It is scheduled for opening in June 2017.


Image of the inside of the New Palau Blaugrana.



Images courtesy: FC Barcelona.

Main image: Panoramic image of the New Palau Blaugrana.