The Alexander Stadium is an international athletics venue that has hosted many recognisable events on the sporting calendar. A £72m redevelopment of the stadium and 41-acre site led by Birmingham City Council (BCC) aims to create a world-class, dynamic venue that contributes to the long-term regeneration of the area and leaves a lasting legacy for the City of Birmingham.
Arup is supporting BCC by providing all design, planning and technical expertise to transform the quality of the stadium and public spaces. Our work is helping to expand the uses of the stadium beyond significant sporting events to accommodate community and cultural needs. The redeveloped stadium will unify its existing components, so it sits elegantly alongside neighbouring buildings and the surrounding landscape, creating a new symbol of pride for the city.
We adopted a collaborative and personable approach to ensure community buy-in and build positive relationships with residents, businesses and organisations. The renovation of the wider stadium site will evolve in phases, with each phase providing a unique opportunity for the city’s community to contribute and benefit.
40%increase in capacity
~£390mGVA to be generated in the region
Getting the project off the ground
The design team focused quickly on designing an efficient but well-detailed stadium using parametric design tools to optimise the stadium's seating geometries within the first few weeks of inception. We developed a hybrid planning application strategy for the site working closely with the council and local stakeholders to ensure a smooth pathway through the planning process.
The application, approved in March 2020, will increase the stadium capacity by 40%, from 12,700 to approximately 18,000.
The Arup team’s design and technical expertise has been exceptional, including navigating the project through a number of complex planning submissions. From concept design right through to supporting the client following the completion of RIBA Stage 4, a fully integrated and skilled team has provided a sustainable vision that has become a striking reality. ” Dave Wagg Head of Sport & Physical Activity, Alexander Stadium, Redevelopment
A key feature of the redevelopment is a new West Stand that is arranged over four floors with a sweeping new roof and a range of athlete, spectator and hospitality facilities. The primary design driver was to create an intimate amphitheatre-like ring of seats around the entire track, creating a ‘stadium’ rather than a collection of stands, providing a more cohesive and intimate atmosphere for spectators. The improvements to the stadium's seating alongside upgrades to the track, interior, lighting and public realm work together to optimise the spectator experience.Learn more about our sports architecture expertise
Following sustainable design principles
The original proposal for a new access road to facilitate movement in and out of the stadium during major events placed it between an avenue of existing trees that would have been significantly damaged during construction. We challenged this proposal and identified an alternative route that protected the existing mature trees and improved connectivity with the canal to the north of the site for local residents. It also avoided any negative impacts on biodiversity and skirted around the site’s flood zone.
We also identified opportunities to reuse excavated materials from the new route to create a new flood bund, thereby reducing the use of approximately 780m3 of raw materials and the associated 80 construction lorry movements during construction. Flooding is a historical issue within Perry Park, adjacent to the stadium, and our hydraulic modelling demonstrated that a surface bund to capture storm water was more effective – and sustainable – than traditional solutions such as buried tanks.
Major events will be just one of many uses of the stadium. To avoid costly investments in sports lighting to accommodate larger events, we developed a flexible lighting strategy whereby the height of the sports lighting masts can be temporarily increased using the same infrastructure. In addition to cost savings for the client, this has reduced the visual impact of the masts and the risk of light pollution for neighbouring residents during non-event periods.
Our work on the Alexander Stadium exemplifies our ‘total design’ approach which is at the heart of Arup’s values. We are proud to be delivering a stadium that is not only on budget and on programme, but also helping create a lasting legacy that will provide value for the city of Birmingham now, and for years to come. ” James Watts Associate Director
Creating a lasting legacy
The highly anticipated changes will create a new and improved home for the Birchfield Harriers Athletics Club and will become a new home to the Birmingham City University Sports Science Faculty. The stadium will provide the ideal blend of features to become a popular and vibrant destination for athletes of all abilities from schoolchildren through to elite professionals.
The project is acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the local area, and its legacy will help to improve economic activity in the region as well as the quality of life, and health and wellbeing of its diverse communities.