Brazil’s World Cup Stadiums Reimagined As Sorely Needed Housing

Now that the big event is done, Brazil might as well squeeze something useful out of its $4 billion investment.

What happens to all the World Cup stadiums now that the big event is over? Brazil spent around $4 billion on the stadiums used this year, including four new stadiums that are unlikely to ever see much action again. In Brasilia, a $900 million stadium has 72,000 seats, but local football teams will probably draw crowds less than a tenth of that size. In the heart of the Amazon rainforest, a little-used stadium will cost $250,000 a month just to maintain.


One suggestion is to turn the Amazonian stadium into a giant jail. But two architects have a more positive idea: Why not convert part of the old stadiums into much-needed housing?

“The stadiums are so big that it is almost absurd,” says architect Sylvain Macaux, who proposed the design along with Axel de Stampa as part of the think tank, 1week1project. In their work, entitled Casa Futebol, they suggest inserting tiny 105-square-meter homes directly into some of the extra space in the stadiums.

With each of their projects, they try to tackle a problem that has real relevance. “What is more global, hyped in the media, and questionable than the World Cup?” Macaux asks. “We’ve read, like everybody, about the social protests in Brazil about all the money wasted for the World Cup. We tried to find an answer to the issue in our own way, with a concept and a powerful image.”

An estimated 170,000 families were evicted for the World Cup, and that came on top of a housing shortage of over a million homes in the state of Sao Paulo alone. So any solution that can provide more housing might be welcome. The architects suggest there might even be an advantage to living inside a stadium, as long as the residents were soccer fans.

“It would be quite an experience,” Macaux says. “Maybe the owners could receive some guests to watch the games. Though if you don’t like football, it could be problematic.”

Like the other projects in the 1W1P series, the design is just a concept, and intended more as a thought experiment than something that will get built. “It’s a bit ambitious, but we would like to bring people to question themselves about the social contexts that always accompany these programs,” Macaux says.


About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.