Galpharm Stadium (Alfred McAlpine Stadium)
Stadium Way, Huddersfield, Yorkshire
YRM Anthony Hunt Associates
1993 - 1997
photo courtesy Anthony Hunt
Huddersfield's football stadium was one of the first to be built after various serious disasters led to a rethink of stadium design at the end on the 1980s. Situated beside the River Colne, on its completion this all-seater stadium was the largest in England outside London's Wembley.
The Lobb Partnership, a firm of architects that are now part of HOK, had anticipated the need for new stadium designs and made a schematic proposal entitled “A Stadium for the Nineties”. They developed their ideas with the Sports Council and displayed them at the NEC in Birmingham in 1990. Hudderfield's Kirklees Council invited Lobb to enter a limited design competition for their new stadium, which they duly won.
The stadium seats 25,000 people. It sits on a 50 hectare brownfield site bounded by the River Colne to the west and the wooded area known as Kilner Bank to the east. The overall plan is a massive oval, consisting of the rectangular pitch enclosed within four roofed and curved banks of seating.
The architect's idea for the plan of the stands is that no seat is more than 150m from the furthest corner of the pitch. Furthermore, every seat is within a notional 90m arc from the centre of the playing area. This geometry led to a greater number of seats being located in the centre of each of the four steeply-banked stands and fewer at the corners. Lobb developed software to explore lines of sight and demonstrate the lack of restriction. However, the layout has since been criticised for lessening spectator involvement.
The defining features of the structure are the curved prismatic trusses supporting the roofs. Nicknamed 'banana trusses', they are aligned with the edges of the pitch and consist of two-pin long span arches, a technique first explored by Anthony Hunt Associates for the Waterloo International Terminal in London.
The steel trusses have been constructed using circular hollow section tubes, and in section form an inverted triangle with two compression booms uppermost. The metal deck roofs are suspended from the lower tension booms. The trusses taper at the pin joints. The largest trusses measure 140m and weigh 78 tonnes each.
Secondary transverse beams are connected to the tension booms at intervals. These taper as they cantilever to support the inner edges of the roofs. At their outer ends, the beams are supported by the stadium's perimeter walls.
Each of the four trusses is slightly different, as their heights vary according to the depth and height of the stand below. Use is made too of Kilner Bank's elevation. Nonetheless, the stadium has a unified appearance. The trusses are supported by thrust blocks, one at each corner of the stadium. These consist of square concrete slabs supported by angled legs, a bit like drilling platforms. They also support floodlight masts.
The Riverside Stand has two tiers separated by a row of 26 hospitality boxes. Opposite is the Kilner Stand, with a large single tier holding 7,000 plus seats. The South Stand seats over 4,000. The North Stand is the most recent and the tallest, with two tiers separated by 16 boxes and special viewing areas. The seating in the lower tier is removable.
The stadium builders, Alfred McAlpine, entered into a 10-year sponsorship deal for the name of the stadium on completion. In 2003, it was renamed for the new sponsors.
Architects: The Lobb Partnership (now part of HOK)
Contractor: Alfred McAlpine Construction Ltd
"The Stadium, Architecture for the New Global Culture"
by Ron Sheard, Periplus Editions 2005
"Stadium with Swagger" by Brian Edwards
building study in Architects Journal, 27th October 1994