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Architect Dan Meis explains how AS Roma's new stadium will celebrate the Colosseum

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Rome is not the kind of city you usually find a big mixed-use development like this. The stadium will be elevated on a plinth and grand stairs will take you up to it. These reference the kind of ceremonial architecture you find all over Ancient Rome

The architect behind Italian football club AS Roma’s planned new stadium has told CLADglobal that he is determined to deliver a facility that “creates an incredible atmosphere” and is respectful of Rome’s extraordinary architectural heritage.

Dan Meis, founder of Meis Architects, has been involved for over five years in the development of a long-awaited new home for the Serie A team, which will replace the Stadio Olimpico, its home since 1953. Finally, after numerous delays and a period of political wrangling, the project is inching closer to reality.

“The key approvals are now in place and we’re finishing up the final drawings and starting construction this year,” said Meis. “It’s been a long process – perhaps not all that surprising given the cliché that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – but the advantage of time is that it helps you make sure everything is extremely well thought out, particularly given the cost of these projects.”

The design of the 52,500-capacity Stadio Della Roma, which will be situated in the Tor di Valle neighbourhood, is heavily inspired by Rome’s much-loved Colosseum.

“Rome has an incredible architectural heritage and the Colosseum is the gold standard forever in terms of sports and entertainment buildings,” said Meis. “I’ve often used it at the start of presentations to demonstrate the power of an events building to the centre of the city. The AS Roma owner [the American billionaire James Pallotta] was very concerned about how we draw on this ancient architecture for the stadium, but do it in a very contemporary way, so it’s not a Las Vegas-style wrapping of the Colosseum around a soccer pitch.

“Our solution was doing this very modern glass and steel stadium, veiled in what we call a ‘scrim’ of travertine – a floating stone screen that has a rhythm and materiality that references the stone walls and arches of the Colosseum. A glass and teflon canopy will protect the seating bowl, and nods to the Colosseum’s Velarium awning.”

Meis added that his design also features “experiential references” to the club’s existing home ground, specifically with a very steep wall of fans in its South Stand (Curva Sud.)

He said: “The Curva Sud at Stadio Olimpico had a big impact on me. It’s where the Ultra fans have provided that building with its home pitch advantage. A big part of the new bowl design was to maintain this very steep wall of fans. It’ll create an incredible atmosphere.”

The stadium will also be notable for its surrounding leisure amenities, with entertainment design practice Forrec masterplanning a district of piazzas, restaurants, retail, and a bustling market.

“This is an unusual project because Rome is not the kind of city you usually find a big mixed-use development like this,” said Meis. “The stadium will be elevated on a plinth and grand stairs will take you up to it. These reference the kind of ceremonial architecture you find all over Ancient Rome, and they will form event spaces, in addition to the ones placed around the ground. We envision them as places where people come out, even when there’s not a game on, to watch sport on video boards, attend outdoor concerts or product launches.

“There haven’t been many new stadiums in Italy, apart from Juventus’s, since the World Cup back in 1990. So we had to really think about how to develop a truly state-of-the-art, modern stadium with the kind of amenities and the experiences you expect. I think we’ve managed to do that.”

A full feature interview with Meis will appear in the forthcoming issue of CLADmag, in which the architect reveals his design approach, architectural philosophy and dream future project.

He has previously spoken to CLADglobal about his work for Everton FC on the club’s planned new home on Liverpool’s Bramley Moore Dock, and a collaboration with tennis star Maria Sharapova for a new boutique health and fitness concept for the hospitality sector.

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The architect behind Italian football club AS Roma’s planned new stadium has told CLADglobal that he is determined to deliver a facility that “creates an incredible atmosphere” and is respectful of Rome’s extraordinary architectural heritage.
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