FNB Stadium designers won't take action against strikingly similar Russian arena

12 May 2018 - 11:07 By Marc Strydom
Russians say that their 2018 World Cup Stadium the Mordovia Arena’s similarity to FNB Stadium is purely ‘accidental coincidence’
Russians say that their 2018 World Cup Stadium the Mordovia Arena’s similarity to FNB Stadium is purely ‘accidental coincidence’
Image: Mzilikazi wa Afrika via Twitter

The designers of FNB Stadium have noted the similarities between their creation and a 2018 World Cup venue in Russia‚ they say‚ but they will not take any steps against the architects of the Mordovia Arena.

The similarities between Mordovia Arena and Johannesburg’s 2010 World Cup final venue FNB‚ from the mosaic-like orange and white outer body to the orange seating inside‚ has attracted attention on social media.

Moldovia‚ with a capacity of 44 000‚ looks surprisingly like a mini-FNB‚ which seats 94 000.

Construction on the Russian stadium in Saransk‚ east of Moscow‚ began in 2010 and the Arena opened just two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Bob van Bebber‚ director of architecture company Boogertman + Partners‚ who designed the revamped FNB Stadium‚ said without inside knowledge of the design process that led to Mordovia’s appearance‚ he could not say if it had been based on FNB Stadium.

“All I can say is that from the images available that I have seen‚ it appears to be very similar. I am not in a position to accuse them of copying as I have not had insight into their narrative nor their concept proposal‚” he said.

Van Bebber said that if Mordovia Arena had been influenced by FNB’s design it was a compliment to his company.

“If indeed it is as copy‚ then we are flattered‚ but we would be disappointed that they didn’t come up with their own idea‚” he said.

“We are‚ however‚ not offended and do not plan to take any steps against the designers.”

Van Bebber was asked how such things work in the design industry‚ and whether similarities in architectural outcomes can be frowned upon.

“Design ideas are often reinterpreted in different ways. It is does‚ however‚ in certain instances‚ get too close for comfort and designers take steps to address this‚” he said.

“Very few ideas are truly original‚ but we as architects need to constantly strive to be original for our own sanity and for our clients‚ who are always looking for that point of difference to set their building apart from others.”

The designers of Mordovia Arena have said in reports that their stadium's design similarities to FNB are purely coincidence.

FNB Stadium was revamped ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

Saransk‚ 630 kilometres east of Moscow‚ is the capital of the Republic of Mordovia‚ a federal subject of Russia. With a population of 300 000 it is the 62nd-largest city in Russia.

The 2018 Russian World Cup kicks off on June 14 with the match between the hosts and Saudi Arabia in Moscow‚ and concludes with the final.