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The new face of the Bernabéu

Real Madrid chooses German studio GMP Architekten to remodel its stadium

Project beat out bids from prestigious architects such as Norman Foster and Herzog & de Meuron

The design for a new Bernabéu stadium by GMP Architekten and the studios L-35 and Ribas&Ribas. Ampliar foto
The design for a new Bernabéu stadium by GMP Architekten and the studios L-35 and Ribas&Ribas.

The competition to design Real Madrid’s new Santiago Bernabéu stadium has a winner. The soccer club has chosen the project presented by German firm GMP Architekten and the studios L-35 and Ribas&Ribas over those from Rafael Moneo and Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron; Norman Foster and Rafael de la Hoz; and Carlos Lamela and Populous.

All four bid teams received a call from Real on Wednesday informing them of the decision. The club will officially publish the name of the winners and the details of the project in the coming days, most likely on Friday.

Spanning two years, the competition has not been without controversy. First of all, it was put out to tender twice: after the first versions of the projects were presented in September 2012, the club decided that as well transforming the stadium into an icon of the capital, it also needed to serve to significantly increase its income. So it went back to the architects to ask them to redesign their initial projects to include such things as a hotel and shopping mall, as well as space for a potential sponsor to provide 200 million of the 400-million-euro project in exchange for having its name attached to the new stadium.

The firms presented their new designs before the summer of last year. That of Carlos Lamela and Populous was predicted to generate 82 million euros per year compared to the approximately 40 million the stadium brings in at present; that of Foster and De la Hoz pointed to income of 76 million; that of GMP, 52; and that of De Moneo, 45.

This is the origin of the second controversy. A source with knowledge of the process from the beginning has pointed out that the club modified these figures in a study commissioned by consultancy firm Bovis. The company drew up a prior report in which it identified the economic differences of each of the studies but in the final version, according to the same source, it said that all the projects had the same profitability.

However, another source with knowledge of the confidential report notes that it only concerned the architects’ projections and that the final valuations were done by club technicians.

The main supporter of the bid by GMP, which is known for its work designing stadiums for the South Africa World Cup and is considered a specialist in creating large arenas, was club president Florentino Pérez. Not everyone had the same opinion, however: one of the people who worked on the German project was Catalan architect Josep Ribas, who is a Barcelona club member, something some Real Madrid directors did not like.