A Global Pioneer in Stadium Design

September 29, 2020

It all started in 1993 when the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games bid team pitched an additional angle to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to support the ‘Green Games’.

In an era where the environment was a major global, political and economic concern the IOC had expressed a desire to apply an environmental dimension to the next Games with concepts such as sustainable urban development. The IOC loved Sydney’s pitch, so did Greenpeace, Earth Council and the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

And, as the famous quote from Juan Antonio Samaranch goes, “The winner is Sydney!”

Scenes of celebration from Homebush Bay, 24 September, 1993
Image: Dean Sewell

From that moment on, the future of the Olympic Games was sealed and sustainability was introduced as a third core business function for the IOC, after sport and culture.

The development of the overall masterplan of the Sydney Olympic Games, including the stadium, became the largest building project in the world attempting to apply the policies of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) with environmental considerations incorporated into every element of building designs, planning and operations.

For the team at global architecture firm Populous, the design of ANZ Stadium, (previously known as Stadium Australia), has seen it become a model of green, functional, cost effective design.

Many of the same team are still with Populous today. Managing Director, Paul Henry, was the original lead architect on the project, with Rod Sheard, during the 1990’s.

Paul Henry, Managing Director, Populous, c.2003

He has since carved out an extensive career leading the design and development of world-renowned sports and entertainment buildings and leads Populous’ Asia Pacific headquarters, located in Brisbane.

“As designers of major sports buildings, we felt a responsibility to investigate how we could develop the most sustainable approach to the future of stadia.

“For a building of its size, we considered the overall impact the stadium would have on its surroundings in the long term and set a new standard in environmental design.

“We extended our design principles beyond current thinking around sustainability which then became the forefront of design and construction in Australia.

“ANZ Stadium was regarded as one of the most environmentally sustainable stadia in the world and became a global pioneer in sport design with a stadium that harvested its own energy,” Paul said.

After the Olympics, many of the IOC coordinators remarked that the efforts in conserving energy, water and biodiversity, while minimising waste and pollution, was a turning point for the future of stadium design.

ANZ Stadium received several national and international awards and accolades including a Gold Award from IOC/IAKS (2003), a finalist position in the World Architecture Awards (2000) and an Energy Efficient Award from the National Master Builders Association (1999).

After Sydney 2000, the stadium design resulted in the formation of the Green Building Council of Australia and subsequently the Greenstar rating tool.

“The stadium’s legacy set new benchmarks in legal requirements for developers and a precedent for future event spaces,” Paul said.

Paul Henry with Mr Jia Qinglin at Stadium Australia, 25 October, 1999

Stadium Australia’s ESD design elements include:

  • The main arena was designed to use 30% less energy than conventional stadiums, minimising requirements for heating, cooling and lighting
  • The design of the façade sealed off the building, reducing both heat loss and heat gain and was a good example of a solar shading design that made best use of the natural environment
  • Natural ventilation in the building design enhanced the drawing of passive air through to the heart of the stadium, expelling warm stale air from the top, reducing plant equipment
  • Photovoltaics street lighting was very effective in the plazas around the stadium reducing infrastructure as it did not need to be connected into the city grid
  • The large roof surface made it ideal for collecting rainwater runoff into 4 x 500kL rainwater harvesting tanks to recycle in a variety of ways including flushing of toilets and irrigation of the pitch
  • A natural gas co-generation power plant was installed; and
  • There was an expectation from tenderers that the environmental strategy was part of their specifications, as was utilising local construction materials wherever possible with alternatives to PVC used in services and finishes.

The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design, Stadium Australia

Feature Photo Credit: Stadium Australia


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