On March 29th 2014 after a 40 year absence, Australian Rules Football returned to Adelaide Oval marking the culmination of a $535 million investment by the government of South Australia. The desire to preserve landmark views determined the layout of the ground, with the guiding principle being to maintain a sense of ‘pavilions in the park.’ Unlike a fully enclosed colosseum, the new Adelaide Oval looks both inward and out with openings toward the historic scoreboard, St Peters Cathedral, and the hills beyond.
The new roofs have progressed structural design to impressive limits, with the south roof exhibiting a magnificent 135 metre clear span over the Riverbank Stand. A palette for the facades was chosen that favoured materials with a natural aesthetic, and the resulting copper-clad stands show a level of finish unmatched by any other stadium in the world. As time passes, we’ll observe the façade patina in sympathy with the ageing landscape around it.
I was privileged to work with an extraordinarily talented design team and I owe much of my architectural education to this experience. I relocated to Adelaide in October 2010 and initially committed only to the preliminary design phases, but clocked-up nearly 18 months before I finally returned to the Melbourne Mothership. The choice was mine, I hadn’t anticipated enjoying life in Adelaide so much as I did. I had a little apartment in North Adelaide and would walk to our city office every morning - aptly passing the Oval on my way. Only in Adelaide is it possible to get stalked by a duck on your way uptown. Yes, it’s smaller than Melbourne, but their ‘backbones’ are essentially the same; a commercial centre on a grid plan, adjacent parklands, a cricket ground on the doorstep, a river running through, and a penchant for cultural events, art, music and festivals.
I’m tremendously proud of what the design team achieved at Adelaide Oval. Throughout the design and construction phases, many hundreds of people contributed to what is now regarded as a game-changer in global sports architecture. More importantly, Adelaide Oval has been embraced beyond what we could have imagined - by both South Australians and visitors alike. Sell-out crowds at the cricket and football are testimony to a job well done, and a flood of images on social media reveal Adelaide’s new postcard destination. If you’ve never been, I urge you to visit sunny Adelaide with its wealth of natural beauty, enviable food and wine, and (can I say it?!) Australia’s premier stadium.