Tag Archives: Emirates Stadium

Some thoughts

These are random, but as the site is again gaining momentum (strange watching visitor numbers fluctuate), I’ll add some other food for thought. I’m not saying they are relevant here, but to my mind all design is about the synthesis of ideas, from whatever source. So why not look at what else is being done and are these relevant to us or not.

The first I will just briefly talk about is old Carisbrook.

To my thinking modern stadiums have no place in a suburban setting. There are of course exceptions to this, where redevelopment has been restricted etc. I will never be convinced that Eden Park should have been redeveloped where it is, and in that form. Highbury, the home of Arsenal football stadium, has recently been redeveloped in a two-stage process. Arsenal and its financial backers were looking to house a champion side (ow that hurts to say that) in a modern new facility, with all of the bells and whistles which go with it, not to mention larger capacity. Arsenal (like most clubs in the UK) is located in a suburban location in North London, this is its major restriction, but was turned into its advantage.

The club built a new stadium at Ashburton Grove is an industrial plot of land just 500 metres from the old stadium. The new stadium is big, it’s brash and it’s also by HOK (Dunedin Stadium architects). Putting its architectural integrity aside, it’s regarded as a wonderful place to watch sport.

What did Arsenal do with the old stadium?

Simple, they are turning the old Art Deco structure into an apartment complex, with the insular looking nature of the complex to its advantage and redeveloped, the pitch into an Eden, an apartment common. All of the complex’s apartments have sold out, and this development is actually making the club money.

I’m not saying that Carisbrook is good for anything in its current form. It doesn’t have the stunning Art Deco architecture of the old Highbury, which is an advantage as Art Deco is among other things a very strong dwelling architectural language; it lent itself to this redevelopment almost immediately, and some bright spark saw that.

Now of course, Carisbrook will never be turned into luxury apartments, so what can we do with the land? A favourite saying of mine is the old, “we are limited only by our imagination”, and I believe that we are very much in that situation. This is a pretty prime piece of land (not in absolute value), but in size and location. It’s suburban, it’s in a lower socio-economic area, and there are shortages of accommodation in South Dunedin. Granny flats would be a disaster, but why not adventure into the social engineering and look at stunningly designed and landscaped low cost housing? There is a history in New Zealand of pioneering in this area, with the likes of Athfield’s work in and around Wellington providing immediate reference. Also the council flats in Upper Riccarton in Christchurch are another fine example.

This part of town will always be home to a mix of young and old people. Play on that, include in the redevelopment amenities that will foster the youth of the area to be active citizens of the area, skate park etc.

I’m not saying it’s what should be there, but there is no reason that social housing shouldn’t be considered worthy of architectural integrity; in fact, they are the very reason why architectural rigour shouldn’t be applied to this. And I am talking about the total built environment, landscape and surrounds included. The apartment developments within the lands of the University of British Columbia are a stunning example of the integration of housing and social space through landscape architecture, there are references points over the entire world.

This is just one suggestion for this area, I hope many people have more ideas. I mean the actual geography of the area is also fascinating, this could be an inspiration for something too. Or failing that, what’s wrong with a modern technology/industry park. The back of the site is already that, the front is suburban.

I’d love to hear people’s opinions for what we can do there. Don’t bother posting if your suggestion is to slap lipstick on the old dear and call it a stadium. I’m working from the assumption that it’s gone, and what can we do with it now.

Some links: http://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/ashburton/

Posted by Paul Le Comte

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