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Finalists named to design new Forest Green Rovers FC stadium

Two architecture firms have won through to the final of a competition to design Forest Green Rovers’ new stadium in Gloucestershire. Glenn Howells Architects and Zaha Hadid Architects were selected from nine shortlisted candidates, based on almost 50 entries from around the world.

Architectural firms from France, Sweden, Germany and the United States, alongside leading British designers, entered the competition to design an innovative new 5,000-capacity stadium for Forest Green Rovers (FGR).

The new stadium will be the centrepiece of the GBP£100m Eco Park development – a 100 acre sports and green technology business park proposal beside junction 13 of the M5 in Gloucestershire.

Ecotricity founder and Forest Green Rovers Chairman, Dale Vince, said:

The diversity and quality of the designs were outstanding and it was a very difficult process narrowing it down from nine to two.

In the two finalists, we have one from a globally renowned practice and the other designed by an architect that created the award-winning Gloucester services right on our doorstep.

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) were responsible for the 2012 London Olympic Aquatic Centre, described by IOC President Jacques Rogge as a “masterpiece”, and are known for their sweeping, fluid forms. They are also designing one of the five stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The firm has won numerous architectural prizes, including the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) top Stirling Prize two years running, for the MAXXI Museum in Rome (2010) and the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton (2011), while their design for a library at Oxford University made the 2016 RIBA National Award list. Founder Dame Zaha Hadid, who passed away earlier this year, was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 – often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize of architecture’.

Jim Heverin, Director at ZHA, said:

We are very honoured to be selected as one of the final two architects. The selection allows us to continue working with the Forest Green Rovers team to deliver a stadium and landscape design using timber construction that embodies the virtues of beauty and sustainability in this unique Stroud countryside location.

Glenn Howells Architects (GHA) designed Gloucester Services on the M5, which also claimed a 2016 RIBA National Award for a “building that reinvents and reinvigorates … a destination that serves a grateful public”.

GHA were also shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2007 for the Savill Building in Windsor Great Park and designed the award-winning Welcome Building at Westonbirt Aboretum.

Glenn Howells, founder of GHA, said:

We are absolutely thrilled to have reached the final stage of this very exciting project. The ambition and vision of the client will make this a truly innovative and ground breaking stadium and we look forward to developing our proposals to demonstrate how this can be achieved.

Two other firms AFL Architects and George King Architects were “highly commended” on their designs.

The competition has been organised by leading sports procurement consultants FWP. Nine shortlisted architects took five weeks to prepare and present their designs in more depth, with the final two set to be paid an honorarium and produce a scale model. The winning design will be unveiled in September.

Neil Ainsworth RIBA of FWP said:

The quality of the submissions from the shortlisted teams was outstanding and we look forward to working with the two finalists over the coming weeks.

Images courtesy: Forest Green Rovers (FGR) FC