One of the pleasures of travelling around is getting to visit the different countries, seeing the sights, tasting the food and of course sampling the atmosphere at the football stadiums. Here in the U.K. Archibald Leitch is responsible for the majority of classic football stadiums built in the early 20th century. His work started at Ibrox in 1899 and his classic design can still be seen to this day. Although millions have been spent on Ibrox since then, they still retain Leitch’s hallmark. His stadiums were initially considered functional rather than aesthetically elegant, and were clearly influenced by his early work on industrial buildings. Typically, his stands had two tiers, with criss-crossed steel balustrades at the front of the upper tier, and were covered by a series of pitched roofs, built so that their ends faced onto the playing field; the central roof span would be distinctly larger, and would incorporate a distinctive pediment. (See Diary for an example!) These criss crossed balustrades are still evident at a number of grounds, but since the Taylor report in 1990 his work has started to disappear as grounds have been modernised, without (in general) managing to create the aura of his work. Whilst Leitch did work on the original Highbury (Arsenal that is not Fleetwood!) my favourite in the U.K. would have to be the art deco at Arsenal which was added in the 1930’s by William Bennie.
On my travels I have visited the majority of the biggest stadiums in Europe and could easily include a piece on the San Siro, Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeau or Olympiastadion but I trust you are familiar with these, instead I have picked stadiums less well known but that have left an impression on me, from an aesthetically pleasing point of view.