A green stadium for the Green Devils

By David Owen

November 8 – A fifth-tier English football club has chosen a design by the celebrated Zaha Hadid Architects for its new stadium.

Forest Green Rovers, based near the Gloucestershire town of Nailsworth in southern England, are flying high this season, having built up a seven-point lead in the National League, the next level below the Premier League and the three divisions of the Football League.

Chaired by energy company Ecotricity’s Dale Vince, who acquired a large shareholding in 2010, the club, known as the Green Devils, has solid green credentials. In line with this ethos, the new stadium is to be built almost entirely of wood.

According to Vince: “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.”

Vince also said: “Zaha Hadid 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 intention is for the venue to be the centrepiece of a £100 million Eco Park development – a 100-acre Ecotricity sports and green technology business park proposal. Half of the park will consist of sporting facilities and a sports science hub. The other half will comprise a green technology business park.

Zaha Hadid, whose eponymous founder died this year, designed the critically-acclaimed aquatics centre used for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

The firm’s design was also originally chosen for the new national stadium in Tokyo that will be the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympics. However, amid spiralling costs for the Games, this project was scrapped in August 2015 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Ironically, the new design, by Kengo Kuma, is to be built partly of wood.

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