Stadium: Home of the Beautiful Game

When it comes to the beautiful game, no stadium is too big or too beautiful. The Premier league is the most popular league in the world and not surprisingly, many clubs are keen to redevelop their stadiums to reflect their prestige and success.

Later this year, Tottenham Hotspur FC’s new stadium will open, seating just over 62,000 fans, making it the second largest stadium in London after the Olympic stadium which is the new home of West Ham United FC and British Athletics.

‘When it comes to designing and building stadiums, there is a level of complexity built in from the outset because of space constraints in urban areas, planning issues and the need to satisfy high expectations of owners, fans and the local community,’ explains Peter Chipchase, director and head of stadium design for WSP, which is overseeing engineering work at Fulham FC’s new improved Riverside Stand at Craven Cottage.

Stadiums also have to be multipurpose, although football remains at the heart

Stadiums also have to be multipurpose, although football remains at the heart. ‘You can’t really justify having a stadium in a prime location which only hosts football matches on Saturdays,’ says Chipchase. ‘New stadium builds are about providing fantastic news facilities for the community.’

The Riverside stand will now include a river walk way that will push four metres out to the river, a plan that will vastly improve the amenity for pedestrians but needed major engineering planning work to ensure that it will not cause disturbance to river flow or wind speeds for rowers and navigators. ‘We completed detailed hydrological studies and wind tunnel tests to ensure that we don’t upset navigation or the eco-system of the river,’ explains Chipchase.

BuroHuppold Engineering, a British professional services firm with over 50 partners and 1800 employees, will shortly complete its work on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which is estimated to have cost up to £850 million to build and is edging closer to completion.

As work continues to complete the compression ring – a steel ring at the top of the structure which will support the roof – sub contractor Sheffield engineering specialist SCX has also started work on a ground-breaking retractable pitch for multi-use. The innovative design involves a grass pitch for football sitting directly above an artificial surface which will be used for NFL matches, music concerts and other events.

The playing surface sits in three pitch-long steel trays, weighing more than 3000 tonnes each. The process of switching from one surface to another is expected to take around 25 minutes


‘The playing surface sits in three pitch-long steel trays, weighing more than 3000 tonnes each. The process of switching from one surface to another is expected to take around 25 minutes,’ says Danny Pickard, SCX’s lead engineer. SCX is also overseeing the building of a bespoke retractable roof over No.1 Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, home of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. ‘Our expertise and heritage enables us to push the boundaries in moving structures and precision engineering.’

‘WSP is keen to recruit structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, building services engineers as well as those who are experienced in underground drainage, vertical transportation (lifts and escalators) and geotechnical engineering’, says Peter Chipchase.

Buro Huppold, working on Tottenham Hotspur FC’s new arena is also keen to recruit engineering talent for this and other ongoing projects. “As a design engineer, BHE will utilise over 100 people with varying expertise at different stages of the project, at peak design we could be as many as 65 people working at a given time,’ says Steve Williamson, a partner and principal at the company based in Bath.  “Across the whole project, there can be as many as 2500 people working on the project at any given time.

Across the whole project, there can be as many as 2500 people working on the project at any given time

As design engineers, we need a wide variety of skills, including structural engineering, civil engineering, geotechnical, mechanical and electrical engineering as well as specialists in lighting, IT systems and audio and acoustics.”

SCX, which was founded in 1972, has a world-class reputation for moving structures in stadiums. SCX currently employs just over 100 engineers and is looking to expand. ‘We need mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, safety engineers as well as visionary design engineers who can join our Special Projects team,’ says Sophie Stead, director of HR & Finance at SCX. With a growing order book, the company also needs experienced project managers with a background in engineering and mechanical handling.

Thea Jourdan

Thea Jourdan has been writing about engineering and architecture for over 10 years. She edited and commissioned Special Reports in engineering, defence, energy automobile and aerospace for the Daily Telegraph from 2005 to 2015.
Thea Jourdan

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