A UK specialist glass and steel glazing company has supplied advanced anti-fire systems for an iconic new sports stadium in South Africa that is hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The huge new structure in Durban, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, has a planned capacity of 70,000 – but with the potential to seat up to 84,000 spectators for major events such as the Olympics, for which South Africa is also bidding.

Wrightstyle, which supplies its systems internationally, has provided fully assembled and pre-painted screens and doorsets for the project, certified to give two hours of fire protection. The fabricator for the contact was Alustar of Durban.

Wrightstyle was chosen because the company is one of the only glass and steel specialists to have successfully tested fully-glazed fire doors for over 120 minutes of protection against fire, with the project’s safety specification requiring the highest standards of test certification.

Capital expenditure on the stadium will be close to Rand 2 billion, making it one of the most ambitious construction projects ever undertaken in South Africa.

The stadium, which opened this month (October) is set to become a world-class tourist destination, with its 106 metre high central arch accessible by a high-tech cable car designed to take visitors up to its highest point, where they can disembark and take in panoramic views of the city.

This 350 metre long free-span steel arch weighs 2,600 tons and, along with the roof, cost nearly Rand 450 million.

The stadium is intended to epitomise architectural innovation and takes its design inspiration from South Africa’s flag, with the stadium’s grand arch representing the unity of the nation. The two legs of the arch 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 country.

However, the arch’s primary function is to provide support for the stadium roof which has a surface area of 46,000 square metres and is suspended from the arch by 17,000 metres of 95mm diameter steel cables and secured around the stadium perimeter by a state-of-the-art compression ring.

Around the perimeter, 1,750 columns and 216 raking beams provide the main support and, inside the stadium, a total of 1,780 pre-cast concrete seating panels create the spectator bowl. In total, the stadium has over 80,000 square metres of floor space.

The Durban contact underlines the international nature of Wrightstyle’s specialist product and systems ranges, with ever-increasing fire and safety specifications requiring guaranteed test compliance between both the glass and framing elements.

For example, last month, Wrightstyle supplied over 300 square metres of specialist glass, framing systems and fire-rated opening windows for the new £4.5 billion Dubai Metro, the world’s largest automated driverless train system. The Dubai project followed other recent contracts across the MENA and Asia-Pacific regions, as well as in Europe and the United States.

Wrightstyle was able to complete the Dubai contract within a month, airfreighting several tons of product from its Devizes fabrication base, because of its ability to supply both the glass and steel frames and its integrated fabrication service – substantially reducing costs and greatly improving lead times.

The Durban stadium, where construction began in 2006, will be multi-functional, able to accommodate athletics and rugby, with an adjoining indoor arena, sporting museum, sports institute, railway station, and underground car parking in the immediate vicinity for 80,000 cars.

The stadium is named after Moses Mabhida, who was one of the founders of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and who also served as General Secretary of the Communist Party during the apartheid struggle.

The stadium is located in what will be one of the most remarkable sporting settings in the world, with surrounding facilities able to host up to 40 different sports, and with walkways connecting it to the city centre and to the beach, only 200 metres away.

The new structure is built on the site of the old Kings Park stadium, which also hosted international football matches, including a friendly against England in May 2003, to celebrate the international launch of South Africa’s 2010 FIFA World Cup bid.