Stadia, the book, has reached its fifth edition. What to expect from a now venerable publication? Much of the same? Well, yes. But that’s fine because the same is 25 chapters spelling out all the fundamentals of stadium design. The book has acquired the subtitle The Populous Design and Development Guide and the authors, Rod Sheard, Geraint John and Ben Vickery are employed by Populous. But it’s more academic manual than marketing brochure.
The appendix listing important projects shows that some significant, and very photogenic, stadiums have been built in the period since the 4th edition was published in 2007. The book has been further improved all-round by publisher Routledge, with full-page colour photos introducing chapters and colour diagrams.
If you are new to stadiums, investing in this substantial read will get you up to speed. If you are responsible for a stadium project, you can reference useful decision-making tools, checklists and explanations. It’s good that there are lots of chapters, each quite narrowly focussed, for example on transport/parking/landscaping or retail/museum/tour so that you can dip in.
The book is strong on stadium-specific topics as you’d expect: crowd circulation and control, spectator viewing, and how to sequence decision-making on the mix of accommodation types. Re-use, reduce, recycle for sustainable design benefits from Populous’ research in this area and brand activation is another recent requirement now covered.
The reference points are mainly UK and US for regulations and sports, with a wider scope for the architectural discussions. The book’s ambition to cover every aspect of stadium design and many of operation leaves some of the chapters as introductions only, for example to pitch construction and maintenance. These are nevertheless useful because they help complete the overall picture that developers need to be aware of.
Stadia retains its status as the one book you’d take to the desert island if that island required a stadium.