Sydney Football Stadium

In June 2015 the Sydney Football Stadium (known for sponsorship reasons as Allianz Stadium) was listed on the National Trust Register. The Sydney Football Stadium is one of a suite of Bicentennial and Olympic projects that brought international focus on Australia and Australian architecture. The National Trust strongly opposes moves for its demolition.

It opened on 24th January 1988 to celebrate Australia’s Bicentenary and is of State heritage significance as an excellent example of a Late Twentieth Century Structuralist style public building. It is an important building in the career of the prominent Australian architect Philip Cox who played a significant role in Australia’s cultural history. The Stadium is critically acclaimed nationally and internationally by the architectural and engineering professions as a significant example of Twentieth Century architecture demonstrating a high level of creativity in its concept, and a high level of integrity in the execution of the original design concept.

The Sydney Football Stadium was designed in 1985 by the notable architectural firm, Philip Cox Richardson Taylor and Partners Pty Ltd. It is one of a suite of outstanding Cox buildings built in Sydney and is part of the enduring image of the celebratory function of the Bicentennial. In 1988 the firm produced five major steel structures in close collaboration with internationally renowned engineers Ove Arup and Partners. Three were sited at Darling Harbour, Sydney’s major Bicentennial project.

The Sydney Football Stadium is acknowledged as an aesthetically distinctive design and was a significant technical innovation; after 1988 the Cox practice’s ‘white stadia expressionism’ was adopted globally by other architects and influenced the design of international sports and exhibition facilities.

It has been recognised as an important contributor to world and Australian architecture in numerous publications and the award of the 1988 Building and Civil Design Award, Institute of Engineers and as a Finalist World Quaternario Award.

The Sydney Cricket Ground and the Sydney Football Stadium are in the vicinity of a range of heritage items, notably the Fox Studios (former Sydney Showground) and Centennial Park. The Sydney Football Stadium is one of a suite of related structures in the SCG representing two of the nation’s favourite pastimes football and cricket and sport generally.

The Sydney Football Stadium has strong associations with some of the country’s most prominent sports people and holds undoubted social value in the wider community. It is technically expressive, rejoicing in the bravado of both sporting and structural exploits.

The Sydney Football Stadium was the result of a Design and Construct Competition in August 1985 to replace the antiquated Sydney Sports Ground, which was won by the firm Civil & Civic. The design team was Philip Cox Richardson Taylor & Partners as architects and Ove Arup & Partners as structural and civil engineers. The building was then situated adjacent to Sydney’s two largest arenas – the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Royal Agricultural Society Showground.

Construction commenced on site in April 1986 after only a 4-month period for detailed design, and the stadium was completed on time and within budget for its opening in January 1988.

The Sydney Football Stadium is designed as one enclosure, seating in excess of 40,000 spectators, with a continuous curving roof around the circumference.

Structurally, the warping of the roof allows a more efficient roof structure while avoiding excessive shading of the turf playing field. The continuous roof edge contains lighting directed toward the field, eliminating any need for lighting towers with their inevitable overspill. This method of floodlighting also gives rise to a more uniform coverage of the pitch, with no defined shadows. The circular form provides good acoustic control while generating an exciting atmosphere.

The seating bowl was sunk into the ground to reduce built structure scale, visual and environmental impact. Sports lighting was mounted to the leading edge of the roof to avoid the spill caused by lighting towers.The roof was designed in bays to allow for substantial completion on the ground before lifting into position. The circular design places the majority of the seats adjacent to the centre line.

Constraints of the site included its position in the historical Moore Park Conservation Area, the surrounding residential housing, and its confinement by the Cricket Ground to the south, and a major road to the north. By enclosing the field in a circle, the majority of spectators are seated at centre field for better viewing. Thus the extent is reduced at either (residential) end allowing the scale to be reduced. Lighting is in a perimeter bend on the roof edge ensuring there is no spill of light.

The brief for this Bi-centennial project required an economically viable stadium able to seat at least 40,000 spectators with optimum viewing conditions, to provide roof for shade over 60% of spectators, whilst minimising over-shading of grassed playing area, to produce a building appropriate to its environment and to minimise the effects of light and noise on the surrounding residential areas.

The site presented a number of constraints which included its position within the historic Moore Park conservation area, the problems associated with surrounding residential housing, and the confines of this site with a well established and much patronised Cricket Ground to the south and a major through road to the north.

In order to accommodate the confines of the site the field was enclosed in a circle, with the majority of spectators seated at centre field for better viewing. This has the twofold effect of providing the maximum number of seats at the optimum spectator position, while reducing the numbers and therefore the scale at either end where the effects on the surrounding residential areas are greatest.

The seating bowl was sunk into the ground to further reduce the built structure and its visual and environmental impact.

Structurally, the warping of the roof shape allows a more efficient roof structure, whilst avoiding excessive shading of the turf playing field. In order to maintain that structural integrity, a continuous roof edge was needed. The opportunity was taken to utilise the edge as a band of continuous lighting directed toward the field, thus eliminating any need for lighting towers with their inevitable light overspill.

The continuous circular form provides good acoustic control in addition to generating a quality of atmosphere not possible at the nearby Cricket Ground.

Spectators are divided into two categories – members who take up the upper level western stand and ticket holders who occupy the eastern stand and all the terraces. Circulation is designed as a continuous level ring concourse with all spectators entering the arena on concourse level. On each stand, part of the seating is cut away to provide bars with direct views of the playing fields. In terms of expression and language, the Stadium is a sculptural form which successfully combines architecture and structure.

The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) was established on the former 1852 Garrison Ground behind Victoria Barracks, Paddington, by the NSW Cricket Association. Between 1878 and 1909, a substantial building program produced seven spectator stands, a scoreboard and related facilities around the playing field. The ground has hosted athletics, baseball, tennis and cycling, but its major sports have always been cricket and, more recently, various codes of football. Rugby league and rugby union matches were removed from the SCG in 1988, when the Sydney Football Stadium (currently called Allianz Stadium) was constructed adjacent, and SCG members’facilities were expanded and upgraded. Opening on 24 January 1988 it was a major Bicentennial project, costing $68 million.

The Sydney Football Stadium was the main competition venue for the Olympic Games football during the Sydney Olympics in 2000, attracting 226,519 spectators. In 2001, NSW Rugby Union moved its administration HQ to the Sydney Football Stadium. The site has been managed by a public trust since 1877, currently the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust. In 2002, the stadium changed its name to Aussie Stadium as a result of a sponsorship deal with Aussie Home Loans. The deal ended in 2007, and after referring back to the old name for five years, the naming rights were
sold again to Allianz in 2012.

The history of these grounds reflects the sports and cultural history of Sydney and NSW. It is one of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust’s goals to be an effective custodian of this heritage.

The design of the Allianz Stadium followed a progression of innovative projects out of the Cox Office – buildings of clearly expressed engineering producing a proud and strong architecture – the two stadiums in Bruce ACT, predating (Lord) Richard Rogers first tensile building, and then the township of Yulara, NT, a wonderful mix of traditional and “new” residential design and construction. The Australian predecessors of this structural expression remain the Melbourne Olympic Pool (Mcintyre and Borland 1956), the Myer Music Bowl (Yuncken Freeman 1959), and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Allianz Stadium underwent some small renovations in 2006, which also raised capacity with a further 3,000 seats.

The Allianz Stadium has hosted many international football matches, including rugby league and rugby union Tests, Bledisloe Cup matches and World Cup and Olympic Games Football since it opened in 1988. It has hosted many concerts for International entertainers as well as events such as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and performances of the opera ‘Aida’. The Stadium demonstrates accumulated memory & collected life and has strong or special association with particular communities or cultural groups in NSW for social and cultural reasons.

Call to action section

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