I’m co-teaching the Sewanee-in-England trip this summer, and in London we’re staying at the Ibis Hotel just by Wembley Stadium. It’s not the most glamorous view, but there’s something about all the construction (with its attendant clanging and banging) coupled with the overt modernity of the stadium itself that gives a distinct impression of the twenty-first century. In the next few days, I plan to add to this post with thoughts on what it’s like to be in the shadow of the modern Colosseum. For now, however, a picture taken from my window as I sipped my morning coffee will suffice:
On the left, you can see the enormous parabolic arch that can be seen from downtown London. As noted on the stadium’s online press-pack:
The most striking, highly visible feature of the stadium is 133 metre tall arch that sits above the north stand. The steel arch is 315 metres long and will become the longest single roof structure in the world and will be visible right across London.
The arch supports all of the weight of the north roof and 60 per cent of the weight of the southern side. By using an arch to bear some of the weight of the southern roof it is possible to retract the south roof to allow light an air onto the pitch.
The arch also ensures that there are no pillars in the new stadium which could obstruct the views of fans.
Of course, the combination of arch and amphitheatre is an old one, with a rich symbolic history: