Design + Architecture

The New Wonders of the World

by Eimear Lynch


What in the world:
Soccer City, Johannesburg, South Africa

Why go: In Jo'burg, where soccer is more religion than sport, Soccer City, the venue for this summer's World Cup, is an appropriately dazzling temple devoted to the worship of headers and punts. And since 2010 marks the first time any African nation has hosted the tourney, architect Bob van Bebber, of Johannesburg-based Boogertman Urban Edge, sought to rep the whole continent with a multihued melting pot that would loom large but feel familiar to fans in each of the stadium's 94,000 seats. He modeled his 7,000-ton steel-and-concrete arena after the calabash, a gourd that has varied uses—musical instrument, beer stein, motorcycle helmet—and that is found all over the continent's 11 billion square miles. Furthering the melting-pot motif is an earthen-colored exterior set into a "fire pit" of lights. "The design was inspired by ideas about shared experiences: drinking, pattern making, storytelling," says Van Bebber. "We wanted to bring divided cultures together not only for this world event but for the future."

Where to stay: A new ten-room hotel in light woods and gray upholstery, Athol Place has a pool and pretty gardens that, in spring, are filled with blooming purple jacarandas (suites, $320–$450).

Where to eat: Near the stadium in Soweto, Wandies is a shebeen-turned-restaurant whose buffet of dumplings, mutton, and salads has sated the likes of Richard Branson and Jesse Jackson (entrées, $6–$11).

Next: Israel is the new Bilbao >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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