The Home of FIFA is the headquarters of the world’s governing body of football. This exceptional building by Swiss architect Tilla Theus is also symbolically the home of the international football community, of the 209 member associations and the 270 million players, coaches, referees and other participants around the world.
Administration, training, conference, logistics and sports centre in one, the building is impressive in how it blends harmoniously into its park-like surroundings. Out of respect for the environment, the forest clearings and the recreation areas were left intact.
The starting point of the project was shaped by FIFA’s vision and desire to simultaneously promote and implement sustainability, flexibility and energy efficiency in a groundbreaking way. The Home of FIFA is impressive in its generous size, its transparency and its hovering elegance. The walls, with their purposeful sweep and the slanted, tilted aluminium strips of netting covering the structure provide the movement that is analogous to football, while at the same time offering sophisticated sun protection.
The representative character of the Home of FIFA is underlined by the selection and deployment of materials that are at the same time simple and elegant. Their properties, and especially the manner in which they were artfully processed by hand, result in a high-quality effect and radiance.
The building is sectioned according to functional principles. The head contains the foyer, the auditorium, the management offices and the lower-level conference rooms; the body of the building houses the remaining offices, as well as the lower level parking garage, storage rooms and other facilities.
With its seating areas, the foyer opens up to the inner courtyard and the outer rooms to the side, as well as to the park and the playing fields. Its quality is the generosity structured by the element of space. The objective is to make individuals feel welcomed, and large groups not feel crushed.
The park: continental interplay. The main element of the outside landscape design is a park to the south and west of the building, which interchanges dense forest vegetation with open fields and clearings. It is accessed by a meandering footpath that leads through the various plant worlds, offering new views and impressions of the installation and the bordering surroundings.
The park is made up of a mix of indigenous and exotic vegetation, mirroring the activities of FIFA as the world governing body and organiser of global sports events. Plants from all six “football continents” are represented. A savannah-like landscape stands for Africa, a copse of blossoms for Asia. Powerful groups of trees with an undergrowth of shrubs rise up from fi elds of high grass, portraying Oceania’s bushland. Vegetation such as is found in mountain forests represent South America and the varied – robust and exotic – character of its landscape. Europe is portrayed by the small trees and bushes of varying height along the indigenous forest’s edge, which extends the existing bordering forest onto FIFA’s property and ties the campus to the surrounding landscape by overriding the visual boundary.
The theme of vegetation continues in the green courtyard that is closed to visitors. What catches the eye in this courtyard are eight sculptures, which tower like majestic old trees over the green carpet of moss and ferns and stand for the misty forests of North America.
The actual core of the structure is located on the third underground level. Water and light were consciously selected – as in the foyer – to stress the conference area’s importance as FIFA’s nerve centre. The large conference room, where the Executive Committee and the standing committees meet, is lit by a large crystal chandelier, whose shape was inspired by that of the football stadium. In the middle of the room, set into the lapis lazuli floor, is the foundation stone of the Home of FIFA. It consists of a concrete cube housing an oversized football, a time capsule that contains bags of earth from the countries of all FIFA associations, as well as other mementos.
Next to the conference room is the meditation room, with its glowing onyx shell that widens as it reaches towards the ceiling, which offers adherents of all religions a place for meditation and contemplation.
Light and lighting play a decisive role in the building, which is anchored by fi ve underground levels deep into the ground. In the stairwells, light supports the dynamic movement of the climbing stairs and plunge the hard core of Brazilian granite into a soft light. The lift cabins glide like lanterns through the cores of the support towers.
The corridors with their chrome supports lend structure and light to the long, drawn-out form of the building. The “through-and-throughs”, which are also part of the artistic lighting concept of the American, James Turrell, provide orientation. Each corridor, whether lengthwise or cross-wise, leads to the light with an unobstructed view of the surroundings. The corridors end in generous, often twostoried lounges.
In addition to the Brazilian granite, which is grey or black depending on its cut and processing, and the blue of the lapis lazuli plates (also from Brazil), strong and fresh colours set periodic accents – for example in the cafeteria, the central venue for employees during their breaks, or in the underground parking garage, with its storage space for logistics and vehicles. Visitors who come by car plunge at the entrance down to FIFA’s property directly into the second underground level via a long middle ramp, as do all lorries delivering or picking up materials.
The sports pitches (playing fields of artificial turf or sand, as well as a mini-field) and the sports centre with seminar room and wellness installation inspire one to engage in sport and do one’s own body some good. Energy concept: ecological and economical. The Home of FIFA also sets benchmarks for the environment. The highest priority was given to an ecological and economic energy concept tied to modern facilities, which was harmoniously integrated into the nearby recreation area.
Against this backdrop, FIFA decided on a zero-emissions building, whose requirements were completely fulfilled – for example by rejecting fossil fuels and CO2 emissions, and by implementing energy-efficient technologies and the optimal interplay of a heating and cooling system. If the building needs to be heated and cooled at the same time, the heat pump takes heat from the cooling network and transfers it to the heating network.
At the Home of FIFA, the architect, the engineers, foremen, bricklayers and other construction professionals were not just doing their job, they were creating art, like the builders of cathedrals and other great structures in former times.