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International Winner: Stadium Australia, Sydney

Sponsored by Emap Construct and the ICE

Sydney's stadium for the 2000 Olympics sets structural standards for the new millennium. Bryan Jefferson, one of the three BCIA judges to inspect the project, reported from Sydney.

At an international level, this is a highly significant project, both in scale and innovation.

With an initial seating capacity of 110,000, it is one of the largest stadia in the world. Great ingenuity has been shown in designs to reduce the capacity by some 30,000 for post-Olympic operation.

The surplus seating will be dismantled and re-erected elsewhere.

A dominant feature of the design is the roof, with its massive steel trusses spanning 295m. Despite its size the structure is highly efficient, delivering a complete roof weighing only 90kg/m2.

In many stadia the design of the arena has been given top priority with a corresponding sacrifice in the quality of the spaces below. The limited availability of natural light often results in an uncomfortable mix of gloom and glare.

In this stadium accommodation below the arena is well planned to a high architectural standard. Detailing is robust and appropriate - the building should be well able to accept the heavy use that characterises large sporting facilities.

Generous arrangements for the disabled are provided at every level.

The design reflects a proper concern for green issues. Photovoltaic cells on and around the stadium are designed to generate 0.6MW - a significant contribution to the energy load. Rainwater from the roof is led down to a large tank in the basement, providing a substantial quantity of water for sanitation. The covered accommodation makes maximum use of passive energy with controlled natural ventilation and a minimum of full air conditioning.

With a construction time of 30 months and stringent financial control, the project is an excellent example of good management and effective teamwork.

With its Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Sydney already has two icons recognised across the world. Stadium Australia could well become the third.

The judges are unanimous in recommending this project as a winner of the International Award.

Perched high above the eastern axis of Lord's, sports writers now have a far better view of the cricket than do the MCC members on their high chairs in the Long Room of the Pavilion at the far end of the pitch.

But there is one disadvantage of being inside the NatWest-sponsored Media Centre. You cannot enjoy the external view of a building that appears set to be one of the great innovative structures of the late 20th century.

Expressing its function as an eye staring down at the wicket, the media centre makes absolutely no compromise to its historic setting yet blends to perfection with buildings a century older.

The eye exists because the MCC is a client brave enough to encourage real innovation and one which enjoys the kind of patronage which can back that commitment without compromise.

As a result British engineering has a showpiece that is beamed around the world to wherever there isan interest in cricket.

Conventional building and construction technology is limited to the foundations and the reinforced concrete lift shafts which support the media centre 15m above the ground at the ends of the Compton and Edrich Stands.

The main structure is the first all-aluminium, semi-monocoque building in the world.

It consists of ribs and spars welded to a plated skin on the same principle as an aircraftor boat.

Prefabrication of the hull was carried out by boatbuilder Pendennis Shipyard inCornwall and the building was brought to site by road as 26 assemblies measuring up to 4.5m by 20m. These were then craned into position and temporarily bolted before welding to form a continuous structure without movement joints.

Glazing on the front of the centre is inclined so as to eliminate reflections and glare on the pitch and minimise the visual barrier between sports reporters and the players. But it does have the effect of isolating reporters, despite the relays from microphones close to the players, and so the BBC commentators' box has a large hinged window to let in the crack of bat and ball - or ball onstump and pad.

The penalty for being a pioneer is often cost and the Media Centre is no exception. But in terms ofreal value Lord's has gained a superb asset.


Towerhill Investment Managers



Principal designer

Bligh Lobb Sports Architecture



Other firms

Modus Consulting Engineers (now part of SKM) (structural, civil and building services design)

Sinclair Knight Merz (structural, civil and building services design)

National Engineering (roof steel subcontractor )

WT Partnership (QS)

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