Monthly Archives: April 2007

Millau Viaduct & Me

If Lord Foster was to come to town.

Kiss me Hardy, or was it just Kismet? Whatever the saying was, watching 3 upper class English lads rolling across the French countryside in supercars ( a Pagani Zonda, a Ford GT, and a Ferrari F430) on telly last night, all of my thoughts about the proposed new Carisbrook stadium were spelt out to me.

What were the presenters of TopGear doing driving close to two million dollars of suprercars to a viaduct in the south-west of France? If they wanted to test the metal of the cars, a road trip across the plains and hills of Germany, with exuberant use of the throttle along the Autobahn would have made more sense. Or at the very least, carry on the trip to their rightful home, Monaco on the South Coast, home of the supercar, super rich and Monte Carlo Grand Prix. But no their journey took in the rolling countryside of France, with the occasional mountain traverse. A seemingly pointless destination? These cars are not the most expensive on the market (Bugatti Veyron $1,440,800 USD), the fastest supercars (Koenigsegg CCX, Aston Martin DBR9 or Bugatti Veyron) or the most popular supercar, but they were objects of automotive beauty and very desirable objects. The presenters laughed at the shape and sounds of them, and most of all their power and awe inspiring aura. The expression “this is nuts” was used, “madness” and even expletives. These cars demanded the attention of the locals in Paris (which is saying something in the capital of style), they deserved the plaudits of the critics; quite simply they were stunning and amazing pieces of engineering.

We were still no closer to understanding why the 3 of them in supercars were heading towards the Millau Viaduct, until they actually got there. The Millau Viaduct could, if one was to be so vulgar, be described as a bridge. It’s an engineering artefact joining to sides of a valley, up to 1000ft in the air. It could have been big, solid and a visual disaster. However the people responsible for the designing and building of the viaduct were adamant that it should be more than a bridge. The best architect was hired, the right materials were used, and the resulting form to provide the function was nothing short of madness. Towering columns, rising up from the valley below, ever so gently cradle the deck as it stretches from column to column, as if it was a baby – tenderly yet with security. To strengthen the structure the columns supporting the suspension cables atop the viaduct are sleek, slender yet monumental and supportive. The cables themselves were not an afterthought. Not one single aspect of the bridge was an after thought.

The 3 presenters took their supercars to the Millau Viaduct to use Lord Fosters creation as one monumental metaphor for the existence of supercars. They are both mad and beautiful, powerful yet tender, they are design and engineering feats of care and insanity. Bridges and cars come in the none too inspiring beige 5 door family salon flavour worldwide. You’d pass any number of cars every day without even giving them another thought, as is the case every time one drives over bridges the length and breadth of the country. But why with $190 million dollars would one want to build in beige?

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all the worlds a stage…

Trying to add some academic elements to the issues that surround the Stadium debate, I stumbled across this little gem.

If You Build It, We Won’t Leave: Turner’s social drama in newspaper coverage of stadium construction controversies.
Drexel University, USA

Journalism Studies, Volume2, Number 3, 2001, pp. 373–392

ABSTRACT Controversy over the construction of new professional sports stadiums has occurred with such regularity that it now amounts to a “ritual”, using the definition developed by anthropologist Victor Turner. The process that begins with a team expressing its desire for a new stadium and concludes with the construction of that stadium has all the markings of a “social drama”. Playing a key role in this social drama are print journalists working in cities where stadium controversies unfold. Using a case study approach, I explore the social drama of stadium construction in Philadelphia, New York, and New England. News coverage in these markets reveals the four stages of social drama: breach, crisis, redressive action, and reintegration.

Team owners manufacture the breach, with the help of government officials who do not want to see franchises move elsewhere. Crisis emerges out of negative reactions to plans for a new stadium. Team and governmental officials then use very public means to try to bring the crisis to an end. Often, they fail in this attempt, and the parties are once again enveloped in crisis. New alliances, often built on cooperation between former opponents, emerge as the parties try to end the crisis. My analysis reveals that journalists in these cities have acted as agents of reintegration. They move from criticizing to endorsing these stadium projects. The narrative that emerges gives the impression that everyone agrees on the need for the new facility, and that construction, though it may be delayed while the parties come together, is inevitable. My findings can help journalists to take a critical look at their coverage of stadium controversies, and to explore the impact of the coverage on their relationship with the communities they serve.

With respect to both Stadium NZ and the new Carisbrook, there has definitely been a narative for their respective stories. Admittidly, the Stadium NZ debate seemed to be a Shakespearian farce on speed, this article provides interesting insight to how the media and other actors behave in telling these stories.

I’m going to do my best to paraphrase this article.

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Image is everything

Chris Barton of The New Zealand Herald produced an interesting piece addressing how perception of proposals can both aid and hinder getting the public on board. He looks at what impact a few drawings of the now defunct Stadium NZ (RIP) had on public perception of what was(n’t) to be.

Again I’m seeking permission, in the meantime I’ll post both links and article.

Lies, damned lies and architects’ drawings.
Chris Barton

Blame Pete Bossley. It was his architectural firm which did the drawing that did the damage. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a giant circular object had landed. The pictures told a strange story. An enormous flattened egg sat on platform at the inner reaches of the Manukau harbour – in a tidal backwater beside an industrial wasteland. It was joined to the shore by two pathways. It throbbed from below and pulsed from the top with white light. It was alive.

Bossley had not just laid an egg in the Manukau mud, he had paved the way for others to lay similarly outrageous eggs at the water’s edge. And so the rugby stadium drawings, videos and propaganda multiplied. For weeks Aucklanders were engaged in an epic battle. It was bizarre.

The city, noted for its absence of beautiful buildings, was engaged in an architectural argument – about aesthetics.

I first met Pete Bossley in the ’70s when we were in 2nd year at the Auckland School of Architecture. He was always destined to be a star. Bossley stood out from the rest because of his masterful drawing. While most of us were still learning how to put our creations onto paper, Bossley, already a fluent draughtsman, could immediately render his with a slick, persuasive pen.

These days of course the pen has given way to computers, 3D walk/fly-throughs, animations and special-effects videos. But with all this persuasive technology at architects’ fingertips, why did Aucklanders say no? Were the designs and the renderings simply no good? Many accused Aucklanders of lacking in vision, but perhaps the vision we were presented with was lacking.

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further to initial thoughts

Hey all,

if you remember some of my initial concerns were that although we are a smallish backwater at the very bottom of the world (it’s almost true don’t be defensive), the $180m +/- for this project isn’t small internationally, thus we should be able to attact the attention of some of the greats of architecture and design.

In discussion with some close to this project, the idea of a design competition was mooted although shelved. Although a fan of international design competitions (for bringing out some fantastical ideas), they certainly can be a hinderance and diversion for the task at hand. I never thought it would be a be all or end all of the stadium design. Perhaps I was just a little excited at the prospect of Norm Foster et al having a sqiggle or two on paper for little old Dunedin.

I also have no doubt that the Stadium Trust sought interest from all over the country, and there is no denying the pedigry of HOK Sport internationally and nationally.

I’m sure when construction comes around, local firms will be doing their damdest to get some of the money flowing locally, as the skill and expertise of local engineers, construction firms etc is exceptional and will provide much to this project. If we have any doubts, the new Milton maximum security prision is a prime example of local firms doing a stunning job.

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Best seat in the house

Broadcast on ABC radio in Australia in 2006 was an interview with several leading sports stadia designers Rod Sheard,
Senior Principal Architect at HOK Sport and Paul Henry, Senior Prinicpal Architect at HOK Sport.

Considering these guys are with HOK sport and HOK are heavily involved with the design of our new stadium, I thought it would be interesting to see what they have to say. This is really interesting and provides many points of reference for our discussions here in Dunedin.

The following is a transcript of the interview/discussion first broadcast on ABC national radio (permission pending).
ABC Radio National Australia

The best seat in the house

Contemporary stadium design means watching sport is all about comfort and access, not only for those at the ground but also for the millions watching at home.

(This program was originally broadcast on 03/02/06)

This transcript was typed from a recording of the program. The ABC cannot guarantee its complete accuracy because of the possibility of mishearing and occasional difficulty in identifying speakers.

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Books of interest

Departing Dunedin for the moment here are some books that look like they would provide background reading and imagery.

Some are available at the Univeristy of Otago Library, if staff ever return them that is.

Like this one…

The Stadium
Architecture for the New Global Culture

Rod Sheard

Get into the centre of the action with The Stadium, a book that takes you to some of the finest event centres across the globe. Sports fans in the United States can revisit their own home fields such as the Reliant Stadium in Houston, SBC Park in San Francisco, Oriole Park in Baltimore, and experience international attractions such as the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wembley in London, Arsenal in London, and the Olympic Stadium in Sydney. With 250 astonishing photos and 70 architectural plans, this book defines the stadium as a worldwide cultural icon.

Periplus July 2005

German Football Stadiums
Joachim Fischer

Appearing in good time for the summer’s forthcoming footstravaganza, this compact little tome features a multitude of images of the arenas that will thrill the souls of the corporate freeloaders who’ve snaffled all the tickets – sorry, the loyal supporters of the world’s 32 best football teams. Modern stadium design at its finest, and all completed on time too. Images show exteriors, interiors and various panoramic views.

Daab April 2006

A Design and Development Guide

Authors: J. Geraint, R. Sheard & B. Vickery

Written by the internationally recognised global leaders in sport architecture, HOK, this book is a practical guide to stadia design. It is essential reading for designers, managers, investors and all those who have an interest in one of the most exciting and rewarding building types of today. All three authors have been involved in the design of stadia, arenas and grandstands for many years and this book reflects their wealth of experience.
Over 25 international case studies illustrate this informative guide including Emirates Stadium, London; Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne; Wimbledon AELTC Centre Court, London; Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire and Soldier Field Stadium, Chicago.

Architectural Press January 2007 Fourth edition

Sport Facilities
Aurora Cuito

The buildings gathered in this book were all designed to meet the remorselessly expanding appetite of one of the most preponderant activities of modern-day life: sport. 25 varied projects are given the once-over, including a Dutch university basketball court, a swooping Zaha Hadid-designed ski jump, a Japanese budokan (martial arts academy) and various municipal, private and corporate sports centres. There are even a couple of football grounds, but much of this book’s appeal lies in its general avoidance of the planet’s primary sport. It also appeals with clear plans, good colour photography and concise, descriptive text. This Spanish book is exclusive to RIBA Bookshops in the UK.

Loft Publications March 2007

Sports & Recreational Facilities
Roger Yee

With full-colour photographs accompanying editorial commentary, this compendium showcases 100 facilities that illustrate the numerous sporting activities that absorb so many of our leisure hours. Split into chapters by design practice, names include Cannon Design, EwingCole, Souto Moura Arquitectos Lda and ELS. All sorts of facilities are featured, from swimming pools to athletics centres to gymnasia, illustrated by images and commentary.

Visual Reference June 2006

Sports Architecture
Rod Sheard

Meeting the needs of all professionals concerned with the provision of high quality sports facilities, the book addresses new build and redevelopment, master planning and facility design. Technical data is provided from a wide range of different projects which include Sydney Olympic Stadium; Highbury Stadium; Victoria Stadium, Melbourne; and the Reebok Stadium, Bolton. The author also takes a look into the near future and shares the latest developments in stadium design which are pushing forward the frontiers of building technology.

E & FN Spon July 2000

Stadium Engineering
Peter Culley and John Pascoe

Today’s stadiums transcend the barriers of geography, culture and language. An excellent stadium will be universally acclaimed, attracting the best performances in sport and entertainment by teams of performers. There are many people involved in creating and running a stadium including commissioning bodies, developers, architects, engineers, cost consultants, specialist sub-contractors, stadium operators, sponsors and, most importantly, the spectators.
Amongst these, the engineer, as the term implies, is the engine driving the process forward. But no engineer is ‘an island’ when it comes to stadium design. As Stadium Engineering highlights, it requires a multidisciplinary approach involving transport planners and traffic engineers, environmentalists, civil and geotechnical engineers, structural engineers, materials technologists, mechanical and electrical engineers, and specialists in fields such as dynamics, acoustics, security, communications and building services operation and maintenance.
Through case studies on current and planned stadiums, and specific focus on specialist engineering fields, Stadium Engineering demonstrates how all these skills are brought together to the benefit of stadium development. This book will be essential reading to all those whose disciplines impact on the continuing success of stadium engineering.

Thomas Telford September 2005

Architecture for Sport
Peter Sturzebecher Sigrid Ulrich

Sport is becoming a philosophy of life and structures built for international sports events are effectively the largest “theatre buildings” of our times.

Architecture for Sport showcases top achievements in international sport architecture of the last ten years, introducing 25 magnificent projects by leading architects throughout the world.

Wiley-Academy August 2002

Stadia Arenas and Grandstands:
Design, Construction and Operation

Jurek Tolloczko Nick Clarke Pat Thompson

With the market for specialist stadia and related facilities growing fast, this timely book presents the best of current worldwide experience in the design, construction and operation of these exciting structures. Case studies are featured of stadia and arenas from Europe, North America and the Far East, and the New Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

E & FN Spon 1998

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