John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
It surely wouldn't work, but this plan to address Brazil's housing crisis is a good example of dreaming big.
Of the twelve stadiums that Brazilian cities built or renovated for the 2014 World Cup, four have futures that look dismal. Situated in a rain forest in one case, in a city without a top-tier soccer team in another, these stadiums will likely struggle to attract the crowds needed to support their massive upkeep costs. That can't help but make one wonder: Was the $2 billion that went into building them a colossal waste?
Maybe, but perhaps Brazil can come up with a plan to put the hulking structures to good use. "Casa Futebol," an architectural proposal from the visionaries at 1 Week 1 Project, is probably not that plan, but its heart is in the right place. They'd like to convert the stadiums into much-needed housing complexes, leaving the fields untouched so people can still enjoy the occasional soccer game.
Axel de Stampa et Sylvain Macaux, architects based both in France and Chile, are responsible for the whimsical collaboration 1 Week 1 Project. Their mission is to provide spontaneous, fun interventions for the urban landscape that might not always be practical. (You might recall their plot to build a swank, halo-shaped retirement home for Pope Benedict XVI.) While this latest design probably will never get off the ground due to issues mentioned below, it's interesting to consider. Here's the duo laying out their grand scheme:
within the host country, the housing shortage is estimated to be at 5.2 million homes according to the institute of applied economic research. by analyzing the current structures of the athletic venues, the architects envision the possibility for alternative modes of housing that counteract the deficit to be placed within their spaces. the existing architecture requires mass amounts of light for its activities along with a common repetition of construction components that evenly divide spaces. these typological characteristics allow the dispersement of modules throughout the perimeter, where residents can have sunlit views to the interior and exterior. meanwhile, soccer games will continue to be played and watched by people from the city, where a portion of the profits can be used to finance the maintenance of the residences.
Now, the limitations: Many of the stadiums that Brazil threw up will actually be used for large soccer matches and other purposes. That leaves the four previously alluded to—in Manaus, Natal, Cuiabá, and Brasília—responsible for shoring up that millions-strong housing deficit. You can build fairly high on those stands, but I doubt it'd be high enough to accommodate that ocean of people.
The specified area of the prefabricated homes, 1,130 square feet, also seems large given that the government's own affordable-housing plan has units beginning at 377 square feet. That could conceivably put these stadium pods financially out of reach of the country's poor, not a great thing for social justice. And finally, as pointed out by a commenter at 1 Week 1 Project, the dense, stacked housing would create "some very interesting fire protection challenges, both [for] suppression and egress."
Still, "Casa Futebol" is a good example of dreaming big, at least: