Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s new stadium set a new benchmark for sporting arenas in the UK, and the construction work was also of the highest quality. The 62,000-seater venue in north London, the largest club stadium in the capital, is designed to be multi-purpose and features the world's first dividing, retractable football pitch, which reveals a synthetic turf pitch underneath for NFL London Games, concerts and other events. Designed by specialist stadium architects Populous, with construction management handled by Mace, work on the project got under way in 2015.
Precast concrete has been used widely, including the terrace sections in the seating bowl, vomitories, stairways, concourse and external areas, as well as spectacular visual signatures of the football club’s identity. Tottenham’s famous crest, a cockerel standing on a football, and the Latin motto ‘Audere Est Facere’ – ‘To Dare is To Do’ – were created as giant architectural precast panels by Techrete and are visible inside the concourse areas under the seating bowl. The precast specialist was selected to the deliver several packages of work at the stadium, the first involving erection of architectural precast cladding panels on the six cores, plus bespoke panels bearing the crest and letters spelling out the motto.
“The club’s emblem was designed to spread across three panels, stacked one on top of each other” explains Coxwell Mupandanyama, senior structural engineer at Techrete. “Specially designed moulds were created for this feature.”
Bespoke moulds were also designed for the precast letters. The 27 Tottenham lettering panels measured 2,000mm in length and 2,200mm in width, and each weighed a tonne. “The supports and the fixings of the letters were designed to be concealed which presented a challenge in terms of installation,” says Mupandanyama. “Adjustable support billets allowed us to pre-level the panels, facilitating the accurate erection of the precast letters.”
The 171 cladding panels used on the cores measured 4,000mm by 3,000mm and each weighed approximately 4.4 tonnes. Installation of the panels was tricky. “Our counter-balance rig installed the letter panels and most of the core panels,” explains Mupandanyama. “However, due to access issues at the north side of the stadium – for cores three and four – we used a crane situated in the middle of the pitch to reach over the top and erect the cladding in this area.”
On the exterior of the stadium, Techrete installed 387 wall panels, ranging in size from 2,725mm by 750mm to 3,824mm by 2,980mm. They weighed from 0.67 up to 4.57 tonnes. On top of the wall, the precast specialist fitted 146 coping panels, which ranged in length from 3,619mm to 1,031mm, and were between 195mm and 189mm in height. They weighed between 0.12 and 0.94 tonnes.
Finally, Techrete fitted 82 GRC panels to clad the rear of the curved terrace areas on cores two and five. These panels measured 910mm by 730mm and weighed 60kg. “GRC was chosen for these areas
as they needed to be lighter so that they could be installed after the architectural precast cladding, using hidden fixings,” explains Mupandanyama.
The mix for all the panels, lettering and badge was a reconstructed stone with natural granite aggregate, sands and an element of pigmentation. These were finished in the Techrete factory with a light acid etch. “Although football stadia have high footfall, as the units were vertical, architectural cladding, there was no need for the mix to be any more hard-wearing than usual,” says Mupandanyama. As the stadium has complex, curving geometry, Techrete found it useful to use BIM for locating fixings on the steel frame and for clash detection with other trades. “The steel fabricator’s model was inserted into the Techrete model to ensure the location of fixings and support steel aligned,” explains Mupandanyama. “BIM models were also coordinated with other contractors to ensure there was no clashes and ‘setting out’ matched with all trades.”
Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium was opened and hosted its first match in 2019.
MPA Precast is part of the Mineral Products Association, the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and industrial sand industries. www.mineralproducts.org
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