Russia's 2018 World Cup stadium looks suspiciously like the FNB Stadium – but the SA architect is not offended

Business Insider SA
  • The newly completed Mordovia Arena in Russia bears a striking resemblance to Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium.
  • Apart from having almost exactly the same shape, the Russian stadium's mosaic-like cladding exterior looks familiar.
  • The SA architects of the FNB stadium said they are not offended by the "very distinct similarities".

The 2018 World Cup stadium in Mordovia, Russia opened its doors recently - and it bears a striking resemblance to Johannesburg's FNB Stadium.

Work on the Russian stadium started in 2010, when the local stadium was already completed. The stadiums have almost exactly the same shape and both feature mosaic-like cladding exterior. 

But the South African architects of the FNB Stadium say they are not offended by the similarity between the stadium and the newly built Russian Mordovia Arena. 

“Copying is the highest act of flattery,” Bob van Bebber, director at architecture firm Boogertman + Partners, told Business Insider South Africa.

Van Bebber says there are "very distinct similarities" in the pattern on the façade of the stadium. “I also notice from the description that the seats are also orange,” Van Bebber added. “Maybe another coincidental similarity [with the FNB stadium].” 

“Not that we are accusing them of copying. I think our narrative which informed the design of Soccer City [FNB Stadium], will definitely be different to their narrative if they have one.” 

The Mordovia Arena, which was designed by Russian designers SaranskGrazhdanProekt, is one of nine stadiums that were purpose-built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Construction on the 44,000 seater stadium was completed at the end of April. 

Update: Russians say their 2018 World Cup stadium’s similarity to FNB stadium is 'accidental coincidence'

Van Bebber says it is quite uncommon to reproduce architectural designs.

See also: This is the 'tree house' in Cape Town that just won the SA Institute of Architects' highest award

“That said very few ideas are truly original, so it is not uncommon to get some rethinking of an idea,” Van Bebber explained. 

“It would [however] be impossible for me to say that our design for the Soccer City stadium (FNB Stadium]) was used as inspiration for the design of this stadium.”  

According to ITV, the arena’s exterior design and colour pattern are inspired by Mordovia’s folk art.  For its part, the FNB stadium was inspired by a calabash and the cladding is said to resemble fire and earth.

The Russian stadium will host its first match (Japan vs Colombia) on June 19th. 

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