Interview with Architect Albert Speer: The Search for Sustainability at the Qatar World Cup

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In this handout image supplied by Qatar 2022 The Al-Wakrah stadium complex is pictured in this artists impression as Qatar 2022 World Cup bid unveils it's stadiums on September 16, 2010 in Doha, Qatar
In this handout image supplied by Qatar 2022 The Al-Wakrah stadium complex is pictured in this artists impression as Qatar 2022 World Cup bid unveils it's stadiums on September 16, 2010 in Doha, Qatar / © Qatar 2022 via Getty Images

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In this handout image supplied by Qatar 2022  The Al-Wakrah stadium complex is pictured in this artists impression as Qatar 2022 World Cup bid unveils it's stadiums on September 16, 2010 in Doha, Qatar
In this handout image supplied by Qatar 2022 The Al-Wakrah stadium complex is pictured in this artists impression as Qatar 2022 World Cup bid unveils it’s stadiums on September 16, 2010 in Doha, Qatar / © Qatar 2022 via Getty Images

Albert Speer has done much to change the world’s appearance. The 80-year-old architect designed a satellite city near Cairo for 3 million people, the Chinese automotive city of Anting, a new capital for Nigeria and the 2000 Expo in Hanover. He also developed the Olympic bids for Leipzig for 2012 and Munich for 2018. Speer’s stadium designs are a significant reason why Qatar was awarded the 2022 football World Cup.

Speer is a reserved, almost shy man. He hesitated for a long time before agreeing to an interview with SPIEGEL. In the conference room where the discussion ultimately took place, Speer lounged way back in his chair at a long, white table. “Large events like the Olympic Games or the World Cup make the inconceivable conceivable,” he says. “There are no taboos.” [….]

SPIEGEL: Mr. Speer, where is the most beautiful stadium in the world?

Speer: We didn’t build it, but I am of the opinion that the most beautiful football stadium is Allianz Arena in Munich.

SPIEGEL: That’s not an entirely objective answer.

Speer: That is true, we participated in the project. We found the site in Munich and helped choose the architects. And we convinced FC Bayern of the project. They were totally appalled when they saw the model for the first time. (Senior team officials Uli) Hoeness and (Franz) Beckenbauer said: That’s not a stadium, that’s an inflatable raft. Now, they are all proud of it, but that wasn’t the case at the beginning.

SPIEGEL: Many fans have the feeling in modern stadiums of being in high-end shopping centers. Everything is clean, optimized and well organized. But hasn’t everything started to look more or less the same?

Speer: I am not familiar with that feeling. And that isn’t just true of stadiums. Take the construction of apartment complexes in China, for example. The demands there are the same as they are here. The world is globalized; there are the same shops and the same office buildings. But there are exceptions. In Brazil, for example, the stadium in Salvador, the Arena Fonte Nova. It was built to open up to the city. It has extremely thin supports allowing a view into the city. ….

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