Zaha Hadid Architects to build wooden soccer stadium

forest green rovers stadium interior
© Zaha Hadid Architects

The words “sustainable” and “Zaha” were never heard together when the late Zaha Hadid was alive, but her firm has just won a competition to build a new soccer (which the English call football) stadium that they call “the greenest in the world.”

The appropriately named Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince is quoted in Dezeen and The Sun:

The really standout thing about this stadium is that it's going to be entirely made of wood – the first time that will have been done anywhere in the world. The importance of using wood is not only that it's a naturally occurring material, it has very low carbon content – about as low as it gets for a building material. And when you bear in mind that around three quarters of the lifetime carbon impact of any stadium comes from its building materials, you can see why that’s so important.

walking under forest green rovers stadium© Zaha Hadid Architects

I would love to see the lifecycle analysis that comes up with that last statistic, Given the energy needed to light and heat a facility like this, as much as I love wood, that seems high. I also don't think it is accurate to say that it is the first stadium to be made out of wood; historically they all were, and some were lost in tragic fires. However modern wood design of heavy timber is very different from what they used to do; Cross laminated timbers and glulam like you see in these illustrations is very resistant to fire.

walking under forest green rovers stadium© Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) won an international design competition to get the gig to design the 5,000 seat stadium, part of a much bigger Eco Park project that includes a nature reserve and a big public transit hub. It will generate its own energy on site and be carbon negative. Dale Vince explains in the Guardian why they need a new stadium:

We’ve done as much as we can to make our current stadium properly sustainable but we are limited with what we can do. It simply wasn’t built with the environment in mind. At Eco Park, we’ve started with a blank sheet of paper and we’ll be going further than anyone has done before. This really will be the greenest football stadium in the world.

Stadium exterior© Zaha Hadid Architects

Of course the rendering shows it sitting in a field of green, with no car parking in sight. Wouldn’t it be lovely if this is the way it actually turns out. Jim Heverin of ZHA says that "the design retains and enhances the existing meadow landscape of the site."

stadium in the evening© Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects to build wooden soccer stadium
As the Guardian notes in its headline, Wood you believe it?

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