Last week, Eco Park Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was finally approved for construction in Gloucestershire, England, after years of delays. The new home of the Forest Green Rovers F.C. will bring carbon-neutral facilities to the local community while maintaining the natural qualities of the existing site. It is the first soccer stadium in the world to be built entirely out of wood.
Although ZHA won the competition to design the stadium in 2016, this was the firm’s second attempt in getting the design approved. In June, the same planning committee denied the proposal due to noise, traffic, and impact on the environment. Alterations to win approval included a revised landscape strategy and increased matchday transport.
The 5,000-seat stadium is the world’s first UN-certified, carbon-neutral football club and almost every element is made of sustainably sourced timber which, in the firm’s words, “is highly durable, safe, recyclable, and beautiful.” In a recent press release, ZHA even mentioned the aspiration of the stadium being carbon negative “with the provision of on-site renewable energy generation.”
The club itself will provide every seat with unrestricted sightlines and fans will be as close as 16 feet from the pitch. One of the recent modifications in the application was a swap for one grass pitch to an all-weather pitch that has access to local clubs. The design anticipates the club’s future growth.
The chair of the club and owner of green energy firm Ecotricity, Dale Vince, told The Architects’ Journal: “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.”