The exterior design of a venue created for sport or entertainment is an important part of attracting the fan, projecting something of the action or performances going on inside and burning the image of the building on the retinas of millions of TV spectators.
Selecting materials carefully can save money and make buildings more sustainable, for example self-cleaning membranes that are washed by rainfall and save on operations costs over the building’s lifetime. Venue managers appreciate design that takes into account efficient ongoing maintenance and the safe operation of the building. Looking good and keeping safe is a venue manager’s dream combination.
As gathering places, venues need to be functional. But owners such as councils and clubs also want them to represent the city or region or team. A cohesive architectural vision is required, often on a budget.
A venue also needs to fit into its surroundings and not disrupt the continuity of its surroundings, which would detract from the building.
Although the bowl design should enable a great atmosphere, some form of opening to the outside can link the team and/or event to the surrounding area. When people can see in and out and move around then they are more likely to come early and stay longer. Membrane covers can integrate outdoor with indoor spaces.
Materials used on the exterior should make attending an event more exciting for the public and provide symbols for the sponsors. Lighting up the skin of the venue at night can create a sense of atmosphere and spectacle, and can change the building’s appearance to suit different events.
Exterior design materials
New construction techniques and materials allow architects to match the exterior look of venues to their purpose. The tradition of a sport sometimes determines the look. Designers of arenas seem to favour the use of glass curtain walls to showcase the entertainment e.g. Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham.
Designers of stadiums go for standard finishes on the minor grandstands and some brick, glass or metal materials on the main grandstand, club house or pavilion. Aluminium skins give a modern look and weathered metal is a popular option, e.g. on the Copper Box on Queen Elizabeth Park in London.
Architects use single layer membrane and metal mesh when they want to make the exterior semi or fully transparent. Mesh is tamper proof. ETFE is light weight, transparent and can be formed to create complex geometric forms, helpful when trying to achieve an iconic look.
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