First opened in 1926, Ullevaal Stadion today holds approximately 27.000 fans. As home ground of the national teams and historically also several local clubs in the capital, the stadium has become a staple in the Norwegian football scene. Despite several upgrades throughout the years, the stadium’s run-down wardrobes and cramped, convoluted player tunnel needed an upgrade.
The new facilities have been designed as a journey through the emotions of a football player. As players enter the foyer and press area, a touch of the past is brought out through selected trophies and artwork reminiscing Norwegian football history. This is thought to increase the confidence of the home team, while at the same time generating respect among the visiting team.
The adrenaline builds as the players move closer to the field. The wardrobes are both functionally and visually designed to help prepare the players for the upcoming game. Designed as arenas, with the coach in center, the rooms are created to strengthen team spirit and to create a strong sense of unity. This sense of unity is as important after the match, whether celebrating victory or recovering from a disappointing loss.
The wardrobes also hold facilities such as showers, cold tubs, bathrooms, and treatment benches to allow players to recover and revitalize.
Minutes before the match begins, the team lines up to go meet the green field where thousands of fans await. This final stage of the interior journey, the player tunnel, is short, yet spacious, giving room for both nerves and excitement. The walls are covered in birch lamella paneling where some lamellas are pulled out to form a distinctive arch that binds the wall and ceiling, creating a tunnel motif while also hiding lighting and other installations in the ceiling. All end faces of these lamellas are coated with polished stainless steel, reflecting the daylight throughout the tunnel.
The wardrobes are placed halfway into the tunnel. Here, the walls are curved to form an intersection in the form of a square emphasized by a loop of wood in the ceiling fit with lighting. New and wider glass doors have been inserted at the end of the tunnel towards the field to let in as much natural lights as possible to be reflected in the polished steel strips of the lamellas.
As the main stage for the national team, the conceptual narrative is built on Norwegian materials and colors. The design is also a gesture to the players, often brought home from international teams to represent their home country. A natural and restricted color palette was generated to tone down the surrounding, giving space for stronger color tones often found on kits and equipment in the sport. The walls are covered with calm and light colors, using birch plywood in all main constructive elements. The foyer is clad with Norwegian Oppdal slate. To withstand abrasion from studded football boots, colored industrial coating is used on the floors in the wardrobes and player tunnel.
From the foyer to the field, the new facilities provide players with a functional space and teams a chance to prepare for the match of their lives.