John Smith’s Stadium
CHALLENGE. A small town in the north of England, Huddersfield has an enviable record when it comes to sport. The birthplace of rugby league and the home of the Huddersfield Giants, the town now also boasts an EPL team following Huddersfield Town’s promotion in 2017. In 1991, a partnership between these two teams and Kirklees Metropolitan Council came together with the ambition to create a mulit-use complex that could serve as a world-class home to both professional teams, as well as being a hub for the local community. Populous’ winning scheme for the new stadium was based on the ‘Stadium for the Nineties’, a theoretical project developed by the Populous design team for the UK Sports Council.
The 50-acre site for the project is on the edge of Huddersfield town, constricted by the River Colne to the west, and the wooded Kilner Bank to the east. The design ambition was for the the stadium to act as a social oasis, attracting future investment into leisure and retail developments on the site.
John Smith's Stadium is the only stadium to ever win the coveted ‘Building of the Year’ award, the forerunner of the Stirling Prize, from the Royal Institute of British Architects
INNOVATION. The Populous masterplan designed to allow the new stadium to function in conjunction with the commercial and leisure facilities, including a multiplex cinema, food and non-food retail, and a community leisure centre. The north stand was designed to incorporate a hotel in the future, as well as housing all the back-of-house facilities for both professional clubs, and maintenance and service required to accommodate the hotel. The stadium design also includes a 25m swimming pool with a fully adjustable floor. The pool also accommodates synchronised swimming, diving, water polo, and competition diving.
IMPACT. The main architectural challenge for the project was to design a roof that allowed uninterrupted viewing from every seat, as well as the addition of roofs to the future end stands. The arch, which became affectionately known as the ‘banana truss’, consists of a white tubular-steel prismatic structure, the largest element of which stretches 140 metres and weighs 78 tonnes.
Since opening in August 1994 John Smith’s Stadium has become a landmark venue, attracting sustained international publicity and winning a number of design awards.