I was in that crowd at Eden Park in Auckland a couple of weeks ago, one of what seemed like only a handful of Aussies in my green and gold in a sea of All Black jerseys, jackets, hats and scarves, cheering…
CHALLENGE. The 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium, set on the edge of the Queensland capital CBD, is a modern dedicated rectangular pitch stadium. The nostalgia and history of world renowned rugby grounds is legendary. Suncorp Stadium, known locally as ‘the Cauldron’ was one of the few rugby grounds in Australia which could compete internationally in terms of atmosphere, but it needed modernizing. The challenge was to redevelop and modernize the venue on an existing site, which is also part of highly residential neighborhood. Populous designed the stadium to fit the contours of the site and suppressed the structure of the massive stadium within its neighborhood setting. The horizontal roof plane diminishes the scale of the building as well as providing a means of enclosing noise and light within the building. The sports lighting itself is also designed to minimize light spill into the surrounding neighborhoods, the lighting outside the stadium is low impact and a service road for heavy vehicles is located beneath the stadium to minimize disruption to local roads.
The venue, itself, is the most intimate large rugby stadium in Australia. Spectators are only six meters from the sideline at the closest point and this close proximity and colosseum bowl design ensures the intimacy and atmosphere of the ‘Cauldron’ has been developed to a new level.
The stadium also shares the site with the historical Christ Church and memorial graveyard. An integral part of the design was to incorporate the Church into the stadium precinct.
INNOVATION. In addition to preserving the atmosphere and creating a 21st century venue on the existing site, Suncorp Stadium has incorporated innovative design features that reflect a sub-tropical climate and outdoor lifestyle, adding to a distinctively Queensland atmosphere. Features include the low floating roof, timber screens and verandas containing open-air bars.
IMPACT. The integration of Suncorp Stadium with the city of Brisbane was seen as fundamental to its success. A series of new pedestrian and transport infrastructure routes have been developed to link the stadium back to the city so that it is not isolated. The stadium is only a kilometer from the city, but it has traditionally been perceived as being a long way out for pedestrian traffic, due to the obstacles caused by major arterial roads. The development of the stadium has been done in conjunction with an integrated transport strategy that improves public transport access to the stadium and is focused on encouraging patrons either to walk or use public transport.
The stadium also provided Brisbane with the capacity to attract major sporting and entertainment events that may have bypassed the city in the past. Since its opening in 2003, the Stadium has played host to games of the Rugby World Cup, annual State of Origin matches and concerts from Robbie Williams, The Police, Andre Rieu, U2 and Jon Bon Jovi.