Maracaná by Daniel Fernandes (Fernandes Arquitetos)

By July 24, 2013

The last few months Maracaná has been in the centre of interest of the football industry. Today this mythic sports venue is proudly standing up again. Daniel Fernandes and his team are the creators of this contemporary piece of art, having spent a lot of devotion to achieve the finalisation of this project.

His firm is ESSMA member since the beginning of 2013. Daniel joined ESSMA with the solid commitment to develop a better stadium industry in Latin America, starting in Brazil. The Maracaná project has won many architecture awards all around the world, mainly because of its functional structure and European style. Further on we will dedicate an extensive business case about this project. Daniel has shared his thoughts with us about how difficult it is to manage the renovation of what is known as the Vatican City of football.

In what way do you think cultural behavior is important regarding the development of new stadiums?

Cultural behavior always plays an important role. The standards we design and that you can find in Europe and the United States are really different from what Brazilians are used to. We are still using our stadiums in the same way we used them 50 or 60 years ago. All the concepts concerning security, safety, premium experience, fan experience or comfort are new to us. So at the end we have to change our behavior somehow, and this will probably be the biggest challenge for us.

What have been the difficulties of designing such an important project as the New Maracaná?

Besides the complexity and the technical challenges, it was a really long process that we had to survive. It was a 5 to 7 years process of dealing with all
the stakeholders, city, state, constructors and FIFA. It’s hard to keep focus and go forward in a good rhythm.

From your perspective as an architect, what has been your biggest challenge until now?

Certainly Maracaná has been THE greatest challenge in my career. Not only was it hard for developing the modernization and renovation of an historical building, but mainly because of the responsibility that was resting on me and my team’s shoulders.

50% of the people involved were against “touching” Maracana, but the other 50% wanted to demolish it and build a new stadium. Dealing with these ideas has been the most difficult part of the process, as there was hardly anyone who had a
moderate opinion like ourselves.

How could you define the actual situation about stadium development in Brazil? What do you think about the future?

Everything concerning stadium development is new to us. The first important fact is that we should start thinking about entertainment next to solitary sports matches. We need to talk about revenue, feasibility and budget. Even the term Arena is new in Brazil: people are always asking me about the real
danielfmeaning of this term. The multifunctional buildings, professional management, operations, products and services related to it are absolutely new to us and we need to go more in depth. Considering the future, we really don’t know how it is going to turn out. Actually we don’t have any kind of this new stadium concepts functioning. I can only hope we won’t abandon the management of the stadiums.

When I was starting this project, I thought this was the first and last time I was going to design a stadium. Today this has changed my perspective in many ways, as we realize there is a big opportunity for structural development. In Brazil, football
is the main character of course, but the idea is to bring in more concerts and other entertainment activities on a regular basis.

What are the key aspects that you could suggest to architects when developing a sustainable and good “fan experience” stadium?

When I did my first stadium project I cared a lot about the technical point of view. Now things have changed a lot. The sight lines are very important, but most important is to really know the stadium business, to know the services and products that are planning to sell in your venue and the audience you are expecting. Once you got this knowledge you will be able to deliver a proper design.

How did you coordinate with the constructors, operators and state stakeholders?

In Brazil the architects are just involved in the beginning of the project. We are not responsible for the coordination of the project itself.

How is ESSMA useful for Fernandes Arquitetos?

Mainly for this opportunity: to exchange knowledge and experiences. We do not have any similar associations in Brazil, not even in Latin America. Is very important for us as we can share our experience but mainly to listen and learn for projects in the future. We have to keep on evolving as architects by sharing information and getting involved with the best practitioners; we aim to import these ideas to our nations. ESSMA as being non commercial is so useful, we can really use the experience for the whole group. The main goal is surely the improvement of our industry.


Upcoming interview
In the coming months we will publish a double interview with Luis Silva (former ESSMA board member and stadium director of FC Porto) and Alexandre Costa (safety manager of FC Porto). Both now employ their expertise at Maracaná stadium. 




ESSMA offers a platform to stadium professionals where they can share, learn and discuss topics related to ESSMA’s areas of expertise: Stadium Development, Operations & Ticketing, Sustainability & SMART, Safety & Security, Fan Experience & Hospitality and Pitch Management.