View of the final piece fitted to the arch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban.
(Photo: Felicity Hayward)
Preparations are well under way for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be staged in South Africa next year and just an hour and a half from Hartford House at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, we were last week fortunate to witness history in the making. On 13 January 2009 the final piece was fitted to the 350m arch that spans KwaZulu Natal’s iconic new football stadium.
Hartford's Durban correspondent, Felicity Hayward, submitted the following report :
"For those who live and work just outside the dirtiest little village, on the darkest continent, at the southern-most tip of Africa... (Eish... I’m even starting to talk like Mick!!) – I thought I would share a bit of history in the making, here in Durban, last week...
The city was abuzz with the final piece of the arch of the soccer stadium going into place – the weather had to be absolutely still and Tuesday was the day. After waiting for hours (this is Africa time) and being updated by a friend who works for Lafarge... the moment finally arrived. I was perched on high ground in Innes Road (with many many other people) with a zoom lens and as the final piece slotted into position – the crowds applauded. I felt proud to be a South African and part of history in the making.
Today the arch has a Christmas tree perched on the top, as we believe that it is German custom, to position a Christmas Tree on an arch once it is built."
The report from eThekwini Municipality reads as follows :
“Today’s fitment concluded one of the most spectacular aspects of the multi-billion stadium construction. In March last year the first sections of the free-span arch arrived by ship from Hamburg, Germany. An engineering feat of epic proportions, the Moses Mabhida stadium with the completion of the arch will give Durban a landmark similar to Sydney’s Opera House; New York’s Statue of Liberty and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro
The arch, which consists of 56 separate 10m pieces stands 106m high, weighs 3500 tons and is symbolic of the South African flag – the two legs on the Southern side of the stadium come together to form a single footing on the Northern side, symbolising the unity of a once divided nation through sport. A high-tech cable car has been designed to take visitors to the highest point of the arch where they can take in panoramic views of the city. Standing 30 storeys tall, the arch is the same height as one of Durban’s tallest buildings - John Ross house overlooking the harbour.
The last piece fitted this morning weighed 60 tons and the arch pieces had to be opened by 5cm’s on either side to accommodate this final section.
Functionally, the arch will also provide critical support for the stadium roof, which will consist of Teflon coated glass fibre membranes. In total the roof will have a surface area of 46 000m2 and will be suspended from the arch by 95mm diameter steel cables and secured around the perimeter of the stadium by an 880m steel compression ring.
Julie-May Ellingson who heads up Durban’s Strategic Projects Unit said: “This is an event which we’ve eagerly looked forward to for many months! The completion of the arch is a major milestone in the City’s preparations for 2010 and exciting proof that we’re well on track.”
The construction of the stadium has captured the imagination of Durbanites, many of whom have made regular stops at the visitors’ centre to photograph the progress of the building and particularly the erection of the arch.
The Moses Mabhida Stadium is at the heart of the Kings Park Sports precinct that is bordered by the Umgeni River, a major rail line, the beachfront and KE Masinga Road (formerly Old Ford Road).
Construction of the stadium is but one aspect of a major eThekwini upgrade for 2010.
Huge road and rail projects are currently underway to ensure the smooth movement of people around Durban when thousands of soccer fans descend on the city.
Special lighting, hard and soft landscaping and street furniture will be used to ensure that the sports precinct and the rest of the city is visually appealing to visitors."
If guests should require accommodation for matches being played at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, please be sure to make reservations well in advance.