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Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland, designed as a collaboration between global architects Populous and Dublin‐based architects, Scott Tallon Walker (STW) was officially opened May 2010. Aviva Stadium, previously called the Lansdowne Road Stadium, hosted its first game of international rugby in 1878. The challenge, according to STW, was creating an international stadium worthy of this historic, oldest international rugby ground in the world. The 50,000-seat stadium will be used for international rugby and soccer fixtures and as a concert and events venue. The Populous architects write that Aviva Stadium (originally called the New Stadium at Lansdowne Road) is the first truly site responsive stadium of its kind in the world, using green architecture principles to best advantage. “Its form, mass, materials and aspect are defined by the site and its surrounds. A shimmering form of transparent 'shingles' rises in the east and west to position the majority of spectators in the desirable side locations of the pitch and falls in the north to minimize the impact of the building on the adjoining neighborhoods. The transparent roof is lowered to the southern sky to maximize the sunlight onto the high performance sports turf to ensure that the best possible playing surface is produced. The undulating transparent form is an ephemeral addition to the skyline of Dublin. Reflecting the color of the sky and light conditions, the building's façade is ever changing.”
Scott Tallon Walker Architects write that, “The building form is a fully site responsive design solution, keeping its height at its lowest closest to the adjacent two storey houses. The site is bounded by residences and the Dodder River, and is bisected by the main Dublin to Wexford railway line. Crowd management within a residential street network, that includes a railway crossing, riverbank walkways as well as bridges over the river resulted in the inclusion of a tunnel underpass to enable the level-crossing to remain closed during events, a new passenger concourse for the railway station, upgrading of the river bank to allow safer access and to provide flood defenses, as well as the demolition of one house to create wider access to the stadium.”
Commenting on the stadium’s opening, Ben Vickery, Senior Principal of Populous said: “There are some buildings which are a pleasure to be a part of and Aviva Stadium is definitely one of those special moments. We have striven to design a stadium worthy of the sporting occasions that will take place within it, as well as create a building that works in harmony with the local community and environment. The bold design of Aviva’s roof creates the image of the sky coming down to meet the ground in a reflective crystal bowl.”
The key to the success of the design was the sensitivity to the surrounding area. The north end of the Aviva stadium has a dramatic dip to the roof and seating to allow sunlight to the houses immediately behind and likewise at the south end to provide daylight to the buildings along Lansdowne Road. The environment and sustainability were a prominent part of the design process with rain water collected to irrigate the pitch and waste heat from the generators used to heat the water for the toilets. The glass and polycarbonate cladding flood the public areas of the stadium with natural light and even the escalators are fitted with sensors to ensure they only run when people are standing on them.
The opening fixture on 31 July 2010 will be as historic a match as the hollowed turf on which it is to be played. The IRFU has arranged for two composite provincial teams – a combined Connaught/Munster selection will play a combined Leinster/Ulster selection. The first soccer match will be on 4 August when a League of Ireland team plays Manchester United and this will be quickly followed by a soccer match between Ireland and Argentina. The first Rugby international will be on the 6 November 2010 between Ireland and South Africa.
Key stadium facts:
• Capacity – 50,000
• Oldest International Stadium in the world
• The steel roof structure at Lansdowne Road weighs 150 kilograms per square meter
• Rainwater is harvested from the roof, stored in tanks in the basement and used to irrigate the pitch
Architecture for Sport