Forest Green Rovers may only play in the fifth tier of the UK's soccer pyramid, but the team will soon have facilities up there with the very best. Following an international design competition, it has appointed Zaha Hadid Architects to construct a low-carbon stadium made almost entirely of sustainably-sourced wood.
"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," says Dale Vince, chairman of Forest Green Rovers and founder of club sponsor Ecotricity. "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, and it's why our new stadium will have the lowest carbon content of any stadium in the world."
Vince continues to say that designing the new stadium was an opportunity to start with a "blank piece of paper." It is aimed at being carbon neutral or carbon negative and will have its own renewable energy generation facilities on-site. Forest Green tells New Atlas that what form the renewables will take has yet to be decided and will be detailed in a full planning application next year.
Located in the town of Stroud, the stadium will initially accommodate up to 5,000 fans, but there will be the potential for increasing that capacity to 10,000. Phase one of the project will see the stadium built to its full size, with an extra seating level being added along the sides if necessary, but without the need for major or costly construction work.
The stadium will take the form of a continuous spectator bowl, which is aimed at optimizing the atmosphere during matches, with a low profile, sweeping curves and a wooden skeleton. Spectators will be able to sit as close as 5 m (16 ft) from the pitch and every seat will have a clear sightline to the pitch.
The new stadium will be part of Ecotricity's Eco Park development, a £100 million (US$125 million) sports and green technology business park that will cover an area of 100 ac (40 ha). Among its sporting provisions will be all-weather training pitches, multi-disciplinary public facilities and a sports science hub, while, for businesses there will be sustainably-built commercial offices and light industrial units. There will be a nature reserve and, potentially, a public transport hub, while restoration work on the Stroudwater canal will also be carried out.
The competition for the design of the new Forest Green Rovers stadium was announced in March and received over over 50 entries from around the world. Nine were shortlisted in May, with designs subsequently worked up, and then two finalists chosen in August. After a further two months developing concepts and creating scale models, Zaha Hadid Architects saw off competition from Glen Howells Architects.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2017 or early 2018 and take two years.
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