The power of sports to unify and pacify people in times of hardship has been proven since the Christmas Truce of World War I, when the troops from both sides ventured into no-man’s-land to exchange pleasantries and play football, to Iraq, where in 2010 victories on the playing field seemed to temporarily subdue sectarian violence in 2004, to name only two of many examples.
This is because sports represent something bigger than a game. National pride, rebuilding, strength, and community come to mind. And this is why international design firm Populous, known for their massive resume of the world’s most famous sports venues like Wembley in the UK and Soccer City in Johannesburg, and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, have taken on a smaller production in Christchurch, New Zealand, a year after a devastating earthquake leveled much of the city, including its stadium.
The structure, though planned only as a temporary replacement (it’s been given a lifespan of around three to five years), is set to be up as early as next month so as to be ready for this year’s rugby season.
The outside of the arena is decorated with graphics and fabrics to give the stadium an identity, even if it will be replaced later on. The arena is equipped to host both rugby and football games, as well as cultural activities and can hold about 18,000 people.
According to Populous, the goal is to draw “people together around teams, athletes, events, places, commerce, industry and ideas they wholeheartedly embrace and adore.” By building this space, they are offering the community of Christchurch help in moving forward.