CHALLENGE. Despite Highbury being one of the most famous football stadia in the world, Arsenal realized that in order to be able to compete with the elite clubs in Europe they needed a larger stadium that would generate increased revenue through increased capacity and hospitality spaces. A site was identified, close to the existing stadium – the challenge was to create a master plan which could fit the new stadium on this difficult site, deliver the maximum area for residential development and meet the local council’s requirements for the provision of social housing.
INNOVATION. The new ground provides a unique mix of commercial and hospitality spaces that are valuable on both match and non-match days, when they cater for a wide range of conferences, exhibitions and events. The curved glass, concrete and steel mesh-panelled facades of the stadium rise between the terraced streets, offering a series of dramatic views of the venue to the approaching visitor. Above, the roof is supported on just eight cores, allowing the slender roof plane to float above the robust facade of the building below. Within the grounds, our brand activation team have brought their innovative approach to wayfinding and signage, as part of a major naming rights sponsorship.
"And because it's an absolutely fantastic stadium, everybody wants to play there."Nigel Winterburn / Former Arsenal defender
IMPACT. The figures of this development speak for themselves: Arsenal’s match day revenue increased from £37.4m in their old Highbury stadium to over £90m in the new Emirates Stadium (equivalent to an additional income of over £1m per match), and that excludes other commercial revenue; converting Highbury to residential units delivered £157m in 2011 alone. This financial success meant Arsenal could clear all their bank loans in 2010 and have been able to emerge as a club with arguably the best financial footing of any club in Europe, applauded by multiple governing bodies as the defining model for other clubs to follow in meeting the requirements of the UEFA Financial Fair Play initiative.
The new Emirates Stadium site is a narrow triangle of space between two key rail routes, in a densely inhabited Victorian suburb, typical of the Inner London streetscape. The design centres on the compact venue set to the north of the site, opening up the southern area for new residential projects adjacent to the existing suburban streets.
The elliptical stadium plan opens up the immediate boundaries to enable a new public podium space, with two new pedestrian bridges across the rail lines to the east, which create effective links to the surrounding area and existing transport networks.
The stadium roof follows the elliptical plan form and is supported on just eight cores, allowing the slender roof plane to appear to float above the robust facade of the building below. The curved glass, concrete and steel mesh panelled facades rise between the terraced streets, contrasting with the existing red brick streetscape. The symmetrical facades offer a series of dramatic views of the venue to the approaching visitor, each reinforcing the public image of the Club and recognition of the venue for match-day arrivals.
Populous undertook the development of wayfinding strategy and signage for the Emirates Stadium and its surrounding development. The client’s brief required the signage integrate seamlessly with the architecture, guiding fans on a seamless journey from the car park and pedestrian walkways approaching the site, to the ticket booth, the concourse and finally getting fans to their seats. The aesthetic of the signboard family combines the corporate identity of the stadium’s naming rights partner with nods to the club brand and history, resulting in what is widely recognised as one of the most successful examples of brand activation at a UK stadium.
Populous’ specialist brand activation team was tasked with developing the environmental graphics and naming rights sponsorship activation for Emirates Stadium. The completed scheme seeks to maintain a sense of tradition and heritage by incorporating key elements of the look and feel of the club’s old Highbury Stadium. This includes a recreation of the Highbury Ground entrance sign at the club’s new home using the same distinctive Gothic Bank typeface.
Populous’ design places the naming rights sponsor at the heart of the community, while the now iconic concrete letters spelling out Arsenal installed outside the South Bridge entrance leave visitors in no doubt as to which club calls this stadium home – and have also created a favourite gathering point for fans before and after matches.
- BEX, Best use of Architectural Design
- Building magazine, Project of the Year Award
- British Construction Industry Awards, Best Major Project Award
- Award for Sports Structures
- London Planning Awards, The Mayor’s Award for Planning Excellence
- Regeneration Awards, Best Mixed Use Regeneration Awards