Bressanone, a small town nestled among Italy’s northern mountains, is 15,000 kilometers from the Australian metropolis of Sydney. The prefabricated wooden components traveled around world to Sydney to build Australia’s first sports stadium made entirely of wood.
The idea of a wooden stadium was born to create an infrastructure that would be perfectly integrated with the natural park in which it is located. And it answers the ever growing demand from Australia’s largest cities for sustainable infrastructure to develop new ways of living based on green mobility and civil engineering. With this in mind, the Eric Tweedale Stadium, erected within Cumberland’s Granville Park, a vast green area near Sydney, was built using wood.
The long journey towards Australia
The Italian wood began its journey on board trucks, but for the near totality of the trip, the prefabricated parts crossed seas and oceans inside eight containers on board a ship. The long journey was necessary to transport to Sydney not just the wood but also the complex structure for the roof that covers the stadium’s 750-seat grandstand, conceived to withstand vibrations and hold up to strong winds.
The stadium, which hosts the Two Blues Rugby Union Club, is made almost entirely of lamellar wood. In addition to the 750-seat grandstand, it includes various multi-purpose halls, a parking lot, the rugby field and a kiosk.
Each element of the structure was first designed in 3D, then created physically with the goal of creating a project that would marry two requirements: one one hand, the need for a modern and efficient sports venue; on the other, the desire for a sustainable project perfectly integrated in its environment.
The sustainable impact of a “green” stadium
The story of Australia’s first wooden stadium explains perfectly why “sustainability” is not an empty word. According to a study, the characteristics of the Eric Tweedale Stadium have ensured a reduction of 130 tons of Co2, the equivalent of 268 barrels of oil, that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere. In addition, the forest where the wood was harvested produces 30 million cubic meters of wood a year. This means that the 202 cubic meters used for the stadium grew back in 8 minutes. It is the force of nature harnessed for large engineering works, a characteristic that garnered the stadium several international prizes, including the Australian Timber Design Awards in 2021.
“The jury was particularly impressed with the warm shine that the lamellar wood creates with its naturally warm light”, explained Gianluigi Traetta, head of the project for Rubner Holzbau. “The homage to the site’s historical and environmental heritage, the design, complex engineering and sustainability make the Eric Tweedale Stadium an incredible resource for the community as well as a work or great beauty.”
Which is why the stadium reached the finals of the prestigious World Architecture Festival in 2022, one of the world’s most important, held in Lisbon last year following previous editions in Barcellona, Singapore and Berlin.
What made the uniqueness of this project stand out was also its ability to perfectly integrate itself in the culture of its environment. The concept was born from the intention to make the structure relate with its environs, especially the plains of the Cumberland, home of the Darug people, who in the last century have lost much of their natural heritage.
This new stadium is an homage to their history as well as a contribution to the preservation of that heritage.