FOREST Green Rovers’ proposed new football ground at Eco Park would be the first all-wooden stadium anywhere in the world.
The winning design for the 5000-seater building was announced at the National League club’s New Lawn stadium this afternoon.
Zaha Hadid Architects’ innovative and groundbreaking timber design was chosen as the winner after a seven-month international competition.
While no planning permission has yet been secured on the overall concept for Eco Park or its stadium, the club are hoping Stroud District Council will give them the green light later this year.
Dale Vince, club chairman and Ecotricity founder, said it would be the centrepiece of the £100m Eco Park development near Eastington and the “greenest football stadium in the world”.
“I think this is going to be special for the club, for the town, for the district and for the whole of county,” he said.
“Zaha Hadid are a globally renowned company with a fantastic and unique style. They have built some fantastic sport stadia around the world, including one at the Olympic Park in London.
“They’ve designed one of the five stadiums for the next World Cup in Qatar, and now they’ve designed one for Forest Green.
“The really standout thing about this stadium is that it’s going to be entirely made of wood – the first time that will have been done anywhere in the world.
“The importance of using wood is not only that it’s a naturally occurring material, it has very low carbon content – about as low as it gets for a building material.
“And when you bear in mind that around three quarters of the lifetime carbon impact of any stadium comes from its building materials, you can see why that’s so important – and it’s why our new stadium will have the lowest carbon content of any stadium in the world.
“We’re thrilled with the concept and the amount of thought Zaha Hadid put into their design – their experience of stadia design and their ability to put environmental issues at the heart of what they do really stood out.
“They took a really challenging brief, ran with it, and have given us an iconic and original new stadium.
“We’ve done as much as we can to make our current stadium properly sustainable, but we are limited with what we can do – it simply wasn’t built with the environment in mind.
“At Eco Park, we’ve started with a blank sheet of paper, and we’ll be going further than anyone has done before – this really will be the greenest football stadium in the world.”
The stadium would be built near Junction 13 of the M5 near the village of Eastington and has been designed specifically with the possibility to expand to a 10,000 seater in the future.
Mr Vince said it would include no concrete and no steel and added that the stadium would be fire-proof. The curved oval roof would be completely transparent.
Zaha Hadid Architects have won numerous architectural prizes, including the Royal Institute of British Architects’ top Stirling Prize two years running.
Jim Heverin, director at the firm, described the stadium as an important addition for the club, and for the community.
“We are very proud to be selected to build the new home for Forest Green Rovers – it will not only be a new stadium, but also an important addition for the community,” he said.
“The club’s heritage, ambition and vision reflect our own, combining the latest material research and construction techniques with new design approaches to build a more ecologically sustainable and inclusive architecture.
“With the team’s community and supporters at its core, fans will be as close as five meters from the pitch and every seat has been calculated to provide unrestricted sight lines to the entire field of play.
“The stadium’s continuous spectator bowl surrounding the pitch will maximise matchday atmosphere.
“Forest Green Rovers’ new stadium and Eco Park aims to be carbon neutral or carbon negative, including measures such as the provision of on-site renewable energy generation.
“The buildings on the site, and their embodied energy, play a substantial role in achieving this ambitious target and demonstrate sustainable architecture can be dynamic and beautiful.”
Mr Heverin added he expected the construction to take two to three years due to its complexity.
The club also had a pair of virtual reality goggles which allowed the players and visitors to look at a 360 view of the stadium from the inside and outside.
Forest Green announced the competition in March this year, and quickly received over 50 entries from around the world, including Sweden, Germany, France, Britain and the United States.
In May, the club shortlisted nine entries, before selecting two finalists in August, who were given another two months to take their concepts further, including building scale models.
The runner-up entry came from Glen Howells Architects, the firm who designed the award-winning Gloucester Services on the M5.
Mr Vince said: “Glen Howells also produced an exceptional design – and they impressed us as much as their design did actually. As a result, we’re going to work with them on some future projects.”
Forest Green manager Mark Cooper said the stadium would be key to the club’s growth over the next few seasons.
“It’s a fantastic building and it fits in perfectly with what the club believe in,” he said.
“We want to be in the position of being quite high up the football pyramid when we move into it, so that we have a team and a status that is fit for such a wonderful stadium.”