According to lead architect Serban Tiganas, from design consortium Dico si Tiganas Birou de Proiectare, the most important conceptual element behind the design of the stadium was transparency. It was this requirement, she says, that dictated the use flexible metal cladding from early on in the project’s conception.

“What concerned us far beyond the functional requirements of such a huge project, was the impact of the arena when no shows are performed - in its daily state,” Tiganas explains.

Cluj County Council and the Romania government together paid more than 350 million euros for the new stadium, which can seat 30,335 people in four two-tier covered stands. It replaces the former Ion Moina Municipal Stadium, constructed in 1961, which was itself a replacement for an athletic and football stadium built in 1911. Ranked as a Category 4 UEFA Elite Stadium, the new arena, which opened in 2011, is now the home ground of FC Universitatea Cluj.

The stadium was designed to incorporate the city’s main promenade - one that starts at the western end of its historic centre and central gardens and continues past the municipal swimming pool areas and various sporting and university facilities.

The shimmering edifice, its fluid form curving in harmony with the adjacent Somes river, succeeds in providing a visual connection between the cityscape and the activities within, while at the same time framing the adjacent park and hills. The translucency of the facade is enhanced by woven strips or “parted gills” of punctured steel sheeting.

“Our vision was to create unique expressions for the building’s two main parts right from the start,” says Tiganas, with the roof appearing to “flow like a tide” and the facades providing a sense of openness.

A perimeter slope surrounds the stand, is designed to reduce the scale of the structure while at the same time facilitating pedestrian movement through the site and offering the public a glimpse of life and activities within the arena.

At night, the arena is said to “unravel” two different images. A soft, warm light “embraces the rhythms of structure and facades”, Tiganas adds, while when hosting an event such as a football match, the arena grows into the largest lamp in the city “and is de-materialised by its transparency”.

The daytime image of the arena, he says, “is enhanced by the complexity and diversity of natural daylight conditions and especially by the brushing light of the morning and the sunset along the river”.

The arena’s vast curving roof comprises 20,000 square metres of standing seam steel, while the facades are made from aluminium, specifically 5,000 square metres of facade cassettes and 2,000 square metres of perforated woven tape.

All the metal cladding was provided by Lindab, Sweden and casted, rolled and lacquered by Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products AS in Norway. The surfaces have an Onyx White Pearl Effect Gold PVDF coating, chosen to reflect the changing colours of the sky and surrounding environment, enabling the stadium to become, says Tiganas, “a huge chameleon or, in a way, a solar clock”.

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