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Putting the park in Eden Park
Wednesday, 06 December 2006

“WE’RE very intent on bringing the park back to Eden Park. A park is about a community space, not just a stadium.”

Those are the thoughts of Alastair Richardson, a chief designer leading the upgrade project for the next generation Eden Park, which is going through detailed resource consent hearings at Auckland City Council.

Brisbane-based Mr Richardson is a principal and director of HOK Sport Architecture, responsible for many of the world’s new or rejuvenated stadia projects in recent times.

Those include Arsenal Football Club’s new Emirates Stadium in London, Ireland’s home of soccer and rugby Lansdowne Rd in Dublin and the world famous Wembley.

Three of his projects include Wellington’s WestpacTrust Stadium, Melbourne’s TelstraDome and Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

“When we started looking at this and Eden Park came and looked around Suncorp Stadium, we talked about the principles we took there - which was Lang Park – was taking the park back to Lang Park. It’s very much the principle here,” Mr Richardson told the Times.

“The perimeter line is being pulled right back to the stadium. It’s no longer to the perimeter of the site.

“Also at each of the entries, we’re envisaging that on non-event days being able to see through those entrances to the grass. So there’s a connection between inside and outside.”

Raising Eden Park’s capacity to 60,000 seats from 47,500 means building three new grandstands – those to the east, south and west - that’ll connect smoothly with the ASB Stand, another HOK Sport creation in the 1990s.

The upgrade design draws influence from the shape of Mt Eden and the region’s landscape.

“A stadium is essentially like a volcano. You have the activity in the middle – the explosive action of the sport – with the crowd overseeing the action on the edge, containing the noise and atmosphere inside,” says Mr Richardson.

The Auckland designers on the Eden Park job are from Jasmax, led by architect and director Richard Harris, with Beca on project management duties.

Mr Harris says the four main entrances, in the stadium’s corners, will be pedestrian ramps that rise to 7m from the footpath.

“We constructed a new ground plain, which is the concourse level, 7m above pitch level and that we’ve treated as lava flow away from the volcano to the four corners,” says Mr Harris.

One feature of the plans includes taking down the boundary fence and locked gates on Sandringham Rd. A loop road for a stadium bus station will pass around the No 2 field, which will only be large enough for training.

“When that field is not being used for training, it’ll be available to the community.”