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Engineering truly flexible sporting stadia facilities

Engineering truly flexible sporting stadia facilities
September 24, 2011

International engineering, management and specialist technical consultancy Aurecon have provided a range of specialist expertise in the recent redevelopment of three stadia being used to host 2011 Rugby World Cup matches.

As world class entertainment destinations that cater to a wide range of sports fans, the redevelopment of Eden Park, Auckland; Trafalgar Park, Nelson and the new Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin has progressed sports facility design to offer highly innovative, user-friendly and more durable structures driven by the latest technologies and world-class design features.

Aurecon Sports Leader and Technical Director Ralph Belperio explains "true multi-use is essential for the financial viability of modern stadia and sporting facilities, minimising the cost and time required for change of use. The growth in popularity of spectator sports has created a need for larger, more energy efficient, better lit and visually spectacular amenities to appeal to an increasingly sophisticated fan base. The stadiums that will host this World Cup exemplify the world class standards that New Zealand's sports stadiums now offer. "

The venues demonstrate the latest trends in sustainability, flexibility and integration with the community, along with world leading research and design in fields as diverse as seismic engineering, building services design and turf production.

Belperio adds "with globally iconic projects such as Wembley Stadium and the Melbourne Cricket Ground under our belt, the Aurecon stadia design team is able to draw upon extensive experience and depth of specialist skills to provide a full range of building services solutions across structural and façade engineering, geotechnical, energy efficiency, acoustic, lighting and fire engineering. Our modelling around technical and environmental challenges enables us to provide the most cost effective leading market solutions for contemporary multi-use stadia.

"Our experience in event overlay engineering for events such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and more recently the 2010 FIFA World Cup demonstrates our ability to positively influence sporting events of global significance." Aurecon provided full engineering disciplines including civil, structural, geotechnical, electronic, HVAC and fire services for Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane as one of the five newly built stadia in Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Aurecon Project Director Stoffel Mentz adds, "ultimately, our job was to save the client time, money and effort on the journey to meeting the very tight deadlines for stadium construction."

Each venue has unique and innovative features that earmark them as leading sporting destinations.

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Forsyth Barr Stadium (referred to as Otago Stadium during the Rugby World Cup), New Zealand's newest rectangular stadium and the world's only permanently covered natural turf stadium offers a space age all-weather transparent roof. 

Aurecon Project Leader and Technical Director Adrian Muir explains that "we utilised the latest environmental modelling technologies to determine light transmission through the roof and provide sufficient ventilation to maximise comfort and air movement for pitch growth. The theoretical work was benchmarked against real trials to validate the outcomes." 

Aurecon also provided the professional engineering design for the building services, civil, sports lighting and acoustics.

Muir adds "coming up with a design that would enable the grass to grow inside the building, was a fundamental design challenge."

The largest indoor, purpose built stadium in New Zealand, this highly versatile venue enables the hosting of major sporting codes including rugby union, rugby league and football, as well as hosting concerts, tradeshows, expos, conferences/events and can be easily customised whatever the weather.

Eden Park, Auckland
The redevelopment of Eden Park increased the permanent capacity of New Zealand's largest stadium from 45,000 to 50,000 with 10,000 additional temporary seats erected during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Aurecon provided structural, geotechnical, façade, wind engineering and sports lighting engineering to the project. 

Eden Park has been a very successful venue for the All Blacks and is a focal point for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, hosting the opening ceremony as well as the semi-finals and final.

Aurecon Project Director for Eden Park, Craig Stevenson states "Eden Park is revered as New Zealand's most famous ground, having previously hosted Rugby World Cup finals as well as significant games in previous Cricket World Cups. 

"It is a privilege to work on one of the icons of sport in New Zealand to ensure that it will continue to host world class sporting events for future generations."

The major structural components of the redevelopment were the creation of a new three tier southern stand and new eastern stand to increase spectator capacity. Both of these stands are wrapped in an impressive translucent ETFE façade incorporating New Zealand's national symbol, the silver fern, which was designed by Aurecon's team of façade engineers in Auckland in conjunction with project architects Populous and Jasmax. 

Aurecon also provided specialist geotechnical and seismic engineering to the project, producing a site specific earthquake spectrum. 

Trafalgar Park, Nelson
Nelson is the birthplace of rugby in New Zealand after holding the first ever game in 1870. It is currently hosting three pool matches.

Aurecon Project Leader and Technical Director Carl Devereux explains that "the sports-lighting at Trafalgar Park was upgraded and a new media facility constructed to meet the standard required by modern broadcasters. There are now eight poles capable of generating pitch lighting levels up to 1500 lux required to broadcast night games for high definition television, and more than ample for that fullback looking to take a swirling up-and-under.

"Trafalgar Park now has one of the best lit sports pitches in the country and the legacy of the World Cup will ensure many more sports events will come to Nelson."
The new facility had to meet the strict performance requirements, be cost effective to implement and meet extremely tight budget. 

Aurecon has gained an outstanding global reputation for lateral thinking and innovative design solutions in the technical aspects of building engineering for modern stadia. 

Ralph Belperio concludes "we have drawn on our vast experience in stadia buildability and functionality to ensure Aurecon has added significant value to the redevelopment of New Zealand venues.

"Our strength is to engineer truly flexible sporting stadia facilities that are financially viable and sustainable."

For more information go to

Images (from top): Forsyth Barr Stadium in use for sport, and a concert; Eden Park and Trafalgar Park.




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