First All Wood Stadium


Maggie Krantz / week 9 / post 7

The Forest Green Rovers’ soccer team in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, England is putting their slogan, “Sustainability in Sport, changing the rules of the game”, to a whole new level with an all wood stadium. This stadium is an example of how the new ways wood can be used to build large structures without compromising the environment. Recently, more and more people are looking at how much wasted energy is in the building itself and wood is the perfect material to lower this footprint.

Dale Vince, the CEO of the world’s first green electricity company, Ecotricity, and owner of the Rovers, has continually challenged the norm in sports by selling only vegan concessions at games and implementing an organic pitch fertilized by cow manure (1). The next step in his quest for complete sustainability is a brand new, low carbon stadium. Vince states, “We’ve done as much as we can to make our current stadium properly sustainable, but we are limited with what we can do – it simply wasn’t built with the environment in mind.” (2)


The new design by Zaha Hadid is a part of the club’s 100 million pounds and 100 acres Eco Park development that include a 5,000 seat stadium and green technology business park. This stadium will be the first in the world made entirely out of wood, a material being used more and more in large structures. “The importance of using wood is not only that it’s a naturally occurring material, it has very low carbon content – about as low as it gets for a building material. And 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,” says Vince (2). This exciting new design showcases the potential wood has to be used in larger structures. No longer relegated to residential architecture, this sustainable material can be used in mega-buildings while still maintaining a low embodied energy footprint.

Sources: 1 / 2 / picture 1 / 2 / 3


One comment

  1. Week 9 Blog Reply

    Your article reminds me the 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium drama a year ago. The same architect, Zaha Hadid, designed two stadiums with totally different approaches, with totally different outcome and results. It is astonishing at first for me to know the architect of this stadium in Nailsworth, England is actually Zaha Hadid. She rarely builds structures out of wood, unlike using reinforced concrete in the proposal for the Tokyo Olympic stadium. Both as stadium, their fates are different. It seems like the wood stadium is a success because Zaha choose wood to build the entire stadium, which wood has low carbon footprint and very low embodied energy compared to concrete and steel. The proposal for Tokyo Olympic seems a failure due to protest from several famous Japanese architects and scrapped by Japanese government due to over cost and separation from the local site and culture. Her proposal was replaced by Kengo Kuma’s design, which is a stadium built from wood as well.
    Wood is back to trend in architecture with new technology and special treatment, it can last longer and be used for larger scale buildings. But wood is not that green than we think. I can’t deny wood is more sustainable than concrete. However, widely consumption on raw wood material would cause rapid deforestation. Replacement of forest normally takes 20-50 years in order to get the same quality wood from replanted trees. It is a relatively short time than concrete, which is considered non-recycable. Even though immediate replantation after disafforestation, the local ecological system would be greatly harm, which effecting life of other plants and animals, including human. Moreover, even though wood is a natural carbon sink, and it has low carbon footprint and low embodied energy during manufacturing process and construction process, it does not mean we can widely consume wood. There are very limited amount of forest resource for us to use. Use all the wood on Earth would not satisfy our needs in building materials for the future decade. Wood also loses its quality through recycling process. The strength of wood would decrease eventually because of breaking the fiber by chopping up through recycle.
    Wood is only a temporarily sustainable material. In a long time span, human cannot rely on wood to solve the material sustainability concerns. Keep the trees we have on our planet, and replant the trees we use, give them back to nature, would actually save us ultimately from severe environmental problems.

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