What makes an outstanding sporting venue.


Carl Saxon, Director

An Engineer's perspective.

Clive Higham, Director

Depending on the size of the project the team can range from a couple of people up to 10s of people as was the case on some of our larger schemes such as Cheltenham Racecourse, The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff and the Al Rayyan Stadium, Qatar.

Our specialist groups really come to the forefront, Fire, Lighting and Acoustics as well as vertical transport play a significant role.

Safety at modern sporting grounds is paramount and the movement of people in and around the building can have a significant impact on service designs. Cheltenham for example very large numbers of people move between the ‘steppings’ and the bar/betting areas between races and so doors and gangways are generously sized.

Community use often requires access to certain areas of the building, so access control systems need to reflect this. Services also need to be suitably sized, zoned and controllable so the building can operate efficiently when potentially partly occupied.

Scott Smith, Associate

I was lucky enough to attend the Muller Diamond League Athletics event at Alexander Stadium recently, and it felt good to see the stadium finished and being used by the athletes and the public. There is definitely a sense of pride and achievement in seeing MEP designs which you’ve been involved with installed, particularly with something like the Alexander Stadium, which required a great deal of time and effort with a challenging client.

When designing a sporting facility, the human centric approach is a must. We should always be checking ourselves and our work to ensure we are putting the sporting event and its participants and spectators at the centre of the design.

We should always have the right facilities in place for the participants/athletes to perform to their maximum. This could include the right changing areas, warm up and preparation zones, as well as the space to actually perform.

One of the best feelings as a sports fan is being in a venue where the atmosphere is welcoming and exciting; this creates a unique experience for a spectator. The spaces should be able to catch the mood inside a stadium and ensure it is carried throughout. This is where Acoustic and lighting design are really important to the overall experience, ensuring the sound and atmosphere is carried throughout the venue.

James O’Grady, Associate

My favourite sporting venue is Sandwell Aquatics Centre. It was my first Olympic size swimming pool project with a dive tower, which I was able to see through from inception to completion. Due to the size of the pool, the height of the pool hall was over 14m, and we had some challenging discussions on the ventilation design; including how we distribute the ductwork to ensure the structural zone and occupied zones were provided with condition air.

Understanding the way in which the building will be used is paramount.

Some large venues are often subdivided and used for other activities, such as conferencing or wedding venues. A case in point would be the panoramic restaurant in the Tattersall Stand at Cheltenham. This is frequently used as a wedding venue, with its spectacular views over the racecourse. The building needs to operate efficiently and appropriately when only one floor is in use, so the zoning of services and sizing of plant needs to respond accordingly.

To improve stadiums for environmental sustainability is through natural progression of technology. Heating, ventilation and cooling systems have become more energy efficient resulting in lower running costs and carbon emissions. With the introduction of variable volume systems incorporating inverter driven fan and pump technology, HVAC systems can match the part load operation of the building better realising reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions. Lighting technology is improving all the time. Excellent Luminaire efficiencies coupled with intelligent lighting controls can further reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.