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Zaha Hadid Architects nestles its proposed Aarhus stadium in the forests of Denmark


Zaha Hadid Architects works with Sweco and Tredje Natur to design the winning competition entry for Denmark‘s new Aarhus football stadium. The single-tiered seating bowl is envisioned to bring visitors as close as possible to the playing field. Embedded within the city’s Marselisborg forest, the stadium is nicknamed the ‘Arena of the Forest,’ its concept informed by the vertical rhythm of the surrounding trees.

The new stadium will take shape as an extension of the forest with its verticality continued in the stadium’s public colonnades and the timber ribs of its facade. These vertical gestures flow from the forest towards the landscaped plaza and into the colonnades of the stadium’s external and internal concourses. Together with an intricate hierarchy of timber ribs within the facade and roof, the stadium’s large horizontal volume is subdivided into a human scale whilst at the same time offering a sense of arrival for the fans congregating in the adjacent public plazas.


Designed by the team at Zaha Hadid Architects and the local architects at Sweco, the roof of the new Aarhus Stadium is designed in response to the climate. The structure will maximize weather protection and increase comfort levels in the adjacent external plazas as well as the internal concourses, defining a sheltered 360-degree public circulation route that is independent from the events within the stadium. Thus, the place will mark a welcoming new public area for a wide variety of recreational and cultural uses by visitors to the park and the local community beyond.

This transparent roof and the gaps within the timber ribs of its facade reveal glimpses of the surrounding forest, while its permeable colonnades blur the boundaries between different programs. The east and west sides incorporate open colonnades that act not only as intuitive way-finding to demarcate the main entrances, but also as an interface between public events and ticketed programs; allowing the two to expand into one another and maximize the potential to host many different type of events all year-round.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ Aarhus Stadium will be constructed atop the site of the existing stadium. The design, structure, and materials of this new work of architecture are optimized to keep in mind its environmental impact, functionality and experienced value. The team aims to use the right materials for the right function, and reduce quantities to the absolute minimum where strength and robustness add the greatest possible value.

Thus, the new Aarhus Stadium is characterized by three primary materials: concrete incorporating recycled aggregates for the columns; locally procured, up-cycled and recycled steel for the trusses; and timber from local certified sustainable sources for the facade cladding.

‘It is an honor to have been selected to build such an important project in Aarhus,‘ comments Gianluca Racana, director of Zaha Hadid Architects, ‘Our proposal for the new Aarhus Stadium is inspired by its natural forest context and the club’s legacy. Providing a wealth of new public spaces for use 365 days a year, the stadium will be a new landmark for the city that incorporates the highest standards of environmental, economic, and social sustainability within in every aspect of its design and construction.’

Project info:

Project title: Aarhus Stadium

Architecture: Zaha Hadid Architecture | @zahahadidarchitects

Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Visualizations: © Negativ | @negativ_va

Client: The Municipality of Aarhus

Project team: Zaha Hadid Architects (lead), SWECO Danmark (local and engineering), TREDJE NATUR APS (landscape and local)

ZHA project director: Gianluca Racana, Ludovico Lombardi

ZHA project leads: Subharthi Guha, Jakub Klaska, Paolo Zilli

ZHA competition team: Andy Lin, Charles Harris, Dieter Matuschke, Jinhee Koh, Kyle Dunnington, Luca Melchiori, Maria Laura, Michael Forward, Matthew Gabe, Nastasja Mitrovic, Sara Criscenti, Valentina Cerrone, Yuzhi Xu

ZHA sustainability team: Carlos Sousa- Martinez, Bahaa Alnassrallah, Aditya Ambare, Aleksander Mastalski

Local architect and engineer: Sweco | @swecodenmark

Sweco project director engineering: Frands Andersen

Sweco project director architecture: Peter Kristiansen

Sweco cost manager: Jens Højgaard

Sweco architecture team: Tim Nørlund , Tina Lind, Eiwen Ying, Søren Vestbjerg Andersen, Thomas Stub Naylor, Lene Kristensen, Bo Boi

Sweco engineering team: Bruno Bjerre, Anton Møller Christensen, Søren Pedersen, Bent Greve, Martin Hougaard, Helle Wøhlk Sørensen, Steffen Alstrup Haagensen, Kjetil Birkeland Moe, Kasper Støttrup , Lars Schäfer

Sweco sustainability team: Allan Hesselholt, Mads Funder Larsen

Landscape architect: TREDJE NATUR | @tredjenatur

Tredje Natur project director: Ole Schrøder

Tredje Natur senior project manager: Mette Fast

Tredje Natur team members: Sofie Askholm Ibsen, Kirstine Lorentsen, Kasper Havemann, Adrianna Trybuchowicz, Lucija Belinic, Philip McKay

a transparent facade will enclose the single-tiered stadium


  • Aarhus, Denmark
  • Zaha Hadid Architecture