Accor Stadium

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

One of Australia’s busiest sports and entertainment venues, Accor Stadium (formerly known as ANZ Stadium and Stadium Australia) is a powerful icon on the Sydney landscape and is one of the largest capacity Olympic stadiums ever built.

CHALLENGE. The challenge was to design a venue which could accommodate 118,000 people during the Olympics but which could be reduced down afterwards to operate as a sustainable long-term venue of 85,000 seats.

An additional challenge was to design a distinctively Australian building which would live up to the Olympic Opening Ceremony and provide a legacy for Sydney and the existing infrastructure of the city.

Sydney had two internationally recognized man-made icons: the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Accor Stadium is a sports and leisure venue to compliment these existing structures. The distinctive white steel trusses that support the roof of the stadium, each 295 meters long, half the span of the Harbour Bridge, are deliberate symbols of power.

  • Populous Event staff played a major role in the successful staging of the 2000 Olympic Summer Games. Team members established and answered the needs for 30 functional areas. They provided turnkey management for each, from document preparation to fit-out. They also prepared documents for temporary adjustments to Accor Stadium.

INNOVATION. The stadium is a model of green, functional, cost effective design and is still regarded as one of the most environmentally sustainable stadia in the world. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wanted the Sydney Olympics to be the ‘Green Games.’ Innovative environmentally sustainable measures that were introduced into the main stadium included recycling rainwater from the roof into underground storage tanks to irrigate the field and a range of passive design measures including ventilation and natural cooling/heating.

Accor Stadium was designed with the digital revolution in mind. The stadium was future proofed with the necessary infrastructure and cabling so it could respond to ongoing future advances in technology. The roof design and material used not only provide maximum weather protection, but also an improved television picture for the at home viewers.

IMPACT. The Sydney 2000 Games were highly successful and often regarded as one of the best Olympic Games in history. The Park, where Accor Stadium is located, has provided a lasting legacy for Sydney and helped to regenerate an industrial area of the city, becoming an international centerpiece of a new community.

Since the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Accor Stadium has held major international sports events including the Rugby World Cup in 2003, World Masters Games in 2009, FIFA World Cup Qualifying Games and the 2015 AFC Asian Football Cup. It has also hosted some of the world’s biggest entertainment names such as AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, U2, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Guns and Roses and Adele.

Services Provided

The design of the next generation in stadia included a flexible seating bowl, multifunctional revenue-generating spaces and a digitally smart stadium for international TV broadcasting and major events.

Contributing to the legacy of the stadium were the environmentally sustainable design and post-Olympic transformation. The distinctively Australian building lived up to the Olympic Opening Ceremony with temporary north and south stands hosting 115,000 fans during the Olympic Games. Post-Games, the removal of the upper end tiers reduced the stadium to 85,000 for its long-term use, with the retractable moving stands able to host major events, rectangle and oval sports.

Moveable seating tiers on rails were installed to enable spectators to be brought in closer to the action, and allow for a variety of sports. The design solution was the removal the upper end tiers and the addition of end roof post-Games. This was the first time that a stadium of this scale had been designed to be re-configured post event.

By harvesting energy and water from natural resources, Accor Stadium was regarded as one of the most environmentally sustainable stadia in the world. The award-winning design subsequently launched Australia’s future in environmental design, forming the Green Building Council and Greenstar rating tool.

The stadium was designed in a joint venture with Bligh Voller Nield, in an entity known as Bligh Lobb Sports Architecture.

Event Overlay

Designing and implementing the overlay of event facilities for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was a complicated operational task requiring a sophisticated level of understanding of overlay design.

With 35 Olympic and Paralympic sports across 13 venues and four major precincts, the team was commissioned to design and manage the temporary event facility requirements for eight main constituents — athletes, press, competition officials, broadcasters, staff, Olympic / Paralympic family, spectators and sponsors.

Working with the Olympic Coordination Authority (OCA), Populous ensured the layouts worked together to accommodate the required furniture, fixtures and equipment and technology items, as well as ensuring that the circulation routes to and from the areas were not obstructed and always kept secure.

The team achieved the main objectives, which were to stage the ‘best games ever’ for all constituent groups, separate ‘front of house’ and ‘back of house,’ provide visitors with a safe and comfortable experience and provide a uniquely memorable experience.

Master Planning

Integrating the master plan of Accor Stadium into the site of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, while simultaneously designing it to reconfigure post-Games, has been the key to its success and legacy.

Located in Homebush, close to the city of Sydney, the sensitive integration of an Olympic-sized venue, where all forms of access and transport methods were studied, made the arrival and circulation within the stadium as convenient as possible for large volumes of spectators.

The Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) 2030 Masterplan is calling for major commercial and residential upgrades around Accor Stadium to “support Sydney Olympic Park’s role as Australia’s premier major events precinct.”

Gold Award, IOC/IAKS
Australian Steel Award, BHP
Finalist, World Architecture Awards
Bradfield Award for Engineering Excellence, British Construction Industry
Energy Efficient Award, National Master Builders Association
Exemplary Sports & Leisure Facility, IAKS
Sporting Facility over AUD$50 Million Award, National Master Builders Association
Project Team
Connect with the designers

Paul Henry

Christopher Lee

Shaun Gallagher

Belinda Goh

Megan Ashfield

Richard Breslin