AP Photo/Nigel French

Forest Green Rovers F.C. introduces design of first all-wood stadium.

By Malika Andrews
November 08, 2016

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In a day and age where stadiums are becoming shinier, newer and more contemporary, Forest Green Rovers F.C. is pushing the limits of innovation and sustainability even further. After a seven-month competition, the team has selected a winning design for its new soccer stadium – and it will be almost entirely made of wood.

The new facility, which will be located in Stroud, U.K., was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the same firm that has worked on the Olympic Park project in London and designed a stadium for the 2022 World Cup.

This is the first stadium to be built entirely of wood.

“The importance of wood is not only that it’s naturally occurring, it has very low embodied carbon – about as low as it gets for a building material,” Dale Vince, the Ecotricity founder and Forest Green Rovers chairman said in a statement.

The environmental consciousness of Zaha Hadid Architects’ design was a big proponent for Forest Green Rovers, but it wasn’t the only positive. Vince noted that it is important to keep in mind that “around three quarters of the lifetime carbon impact of any stadium comes from its building materials,” and that is why it was important for the team to choose a sustainable material.

“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,” Vince said. “At Eco Park, we’ve started with a blank sheet of paper, and we’ll be going further than anyone else has done before – this really will be the greenest football stadium in the world,” Vince said.

ZHA designed the stadium to blend in with the “meadow landscape” that already exists. The timber they are using is durable and recyclable. The seating and floor slabs will also be made of wood where as in most stadiums, these elements are made of steel or concrete.

“With the team’s community and supporters at its core, fans will be as close as five meters from the pitch and the position of every seat has been calculated to provide excellent, unrestricted views of the entire field of play,” Jim Heverin, Director at ZHA, said in a statement. “The stadium’s continuous spectator bowl surrounding the pitch will maximise matchday atmosphere.”

The stadium will be built to hold 5,000 spectators and it is planned to increase to 10,000. It could be built in a few years, Vince told Gloucestershire Live. He said the new stadium is the centerpiece of a £100 million development project.

The competition to select a stadium design began in March. In May, the selection pool was narrowed down to nine designs and the club gave each designer two months to work up their concepts, which were then reviewed in August. Two finalists were selected and given another two months to further their design concepts and make a scale model.

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