Stretching the boundaries of architecture
The world famous Lord’s ground is being modernised and upgraded to create an even better experience for spectators at the venue dubbed ‘the home of cricket’. The Lord’s Masterplan sets out an ambitious programme of redevelopment. And BAM has delivered the first piece in this jigsaw: the sensitively designed Warner Stand, which sits alongside the ornate and iconic Victorian pavilion.
Back in 1958, former England cricket captain Sir Pelham Warner officially opened a brand new stand named in his honour. But by the early C21 it was clear that the building was no longer fit for purpose. With only two entrances and no lifts, it fell far short of modern accessibility, safety and evacuation requirements. And the view of the pitch was restricted in over 600 of its seats.
In fact, the Marylebone Cricket Club (the MCC, the guardian of the laws of cricket and owner of Lord’s) has recognised that the whole ground needs to be updated. In 2013, it commissioned a masterplan from architects Populous, with the ultimate aim of gradually replacing five stands and improving facilities throughout the ground.
BAM won the contract to deliver the new Warner Stand: the first stage in this masterplan. Over the course of two off seasons the teams worked to create the distinctive structure. During Autumn and Winter 2015-2016 the basement and seating tiers were built. Then in 2016-2017 BAM constructed the roof and the stand was fitted out.
Better experience for spectators and officials
Cricket is a unique game, especially for those watching in the ground. Although one-day matches and fast-paced formats have been introduced, the five-day test match is still the flagship of the sport. So spectators can be in their seats for many hours!
One of the most important features of the new stand is the improved seating. A steeper gradient gives people a clearer view of the action, and only a handful of seats now have restricted views. Access to the stand is also much better and there are dedicated facilities for people with disabilities and reduced mobility.
There are more bars than before and a spectacular new top-floor restaurant with panoramic sliding glass windows, where spectators can take lunch or afternoon tea while watching the action on the pitch.
Behind the scenes, there have been radical and much needed improvements to the facilities for officials and those responsible for controlling matches.
The most striking feature of the new stand is its almost wing-like roof, formed using white oak glulam beams and profiled steel, with a high-tech translucent fabric canopy that shades spectators but also allows through some natural light.
Locating and securing the cantilevered glulam beams – at that time the longest ever created using American white oak – was a precision task.
The new stand is right in the corner of Lord’s, making it the hardest part of the ground to access. This also presented some challenges during construction, but BAM used a 200-ton mobile crane (positioned for a tight, three-day window on a track-way on the famous Lord’s turf) to lift the glulam beam and pre-cast terraces into place.
“In total, 100 m3 of Number 1 Common grade American white oak was used to create the 11 beams for the stand. The AHEC Grown in Seconds sustainability calculator shows that the volume of timber used for the beams would take just 160 seconds to regrow in the forest.” American Hardwood Export Council
Low impact on people and environment
This sensitive approach to the site and its neighbours characterised the build. A key requirement was to make sure that the famous Coronation Gardens behind the stand – where generations of cricket fans have traditionally enjoyed match-day picnics – remained accessible throughout the works.
BAM also used low-noise piling techniques when creating the foundations, to minimise disruption to surrounding residents, with the added advantage that less spoil had to be removed from site.
A series of living walls on the outside of the stand has created better views for neighbours: softening the visual impact of the building.
Rainwater harvesting, ground-source heat pumps and solar panels on the roof to generate hot water and electricity all contribute to making the Warner Stand not only a stunning building to look at, but also a sustainable home for the future of top-class cricket.