How important is Innovation for Venue Design?

Sport Business News

Throughout November Major Events International focused on venue technology, with this in mind on the 7th December MEI's Major Events Network gathered at the Holiday Inn Regent's park to explore the importance of innovation when designing new venues for major events. The briefing was attended by a variety of businesses all with a keen interest in architecture for major events and which factors effect innovation.

Tom Jones, Principal at Populous began proceedings by offering some insight into the future direction of the design of sports and entertainment venues. He started with an overview of some of the venues that Populous has worked on, such as the Emirates Stadium, the London Olympic stadium and Soccer City and then moved onto 5 aspects that are driving innovation. This included new territories, new technologies, new typologies, and a new approach to temporary and new forms of brand activation. He discussed the work that Populous is developing around the world and the different challenges of building venues in different countries. Furthermore, he outlined the need for innovation with the changing nature of venues and the move towards the integration of sports, entertainment and culture into flexible, multi–purpose spaces. Roy McGowan, Director of Steer Davis Gleave, discussed how crowd flow can propagate and support innovation for venue design. When designing a new venue, attention needs to be paid to the management of crowds entering and exiting the venue efficiently and safely. Roy explained that studies have shown that there is a need to keep crowds moving as they egress through a stadium or station and that long delays can cause crowds to become agitated and to start behaving randomly which is when they can make unsafe decisions. With this in mind Steer Davies Gleave works with architects to develop the safest and most efficient routes to move thousands of people out of a major event arena and then onwards away from the venue. Roy demonstrated a range of dynamic crowd flow modelling that Steer Davies Gleave has undertaken to help enable an innovative design approach across the design team including their work for Wembley Stadium in London, Soccer City in Johannesburg, and the Maracana Stadium in Rio. Finally Jon Coxeter–Smith of Sagacity took a slightly different stance, looking at what innovation means and what are some of the causes. He argued that innovation without purpose was pointless and that innovation in our context might be better thought of as improvement or development and a necessary response – like sink or swim – to the challenges faced by our industry and society in general. Foremost amongst these challenges are those implied by the Olympic motto Faster Higher Stronger whether in pursuit of the holy grail for the best games ever or in creating venues which will facilitate the setting of new world records. The Better Faster Cheaper and More for Less imperatives of the modern business and economic landscapes too are having an impact and challenging organizers, designers and delivery teams to constantly find better ways. User groups and spectators face, and enjoy, the numerous siren calls from other rival attractions and so the venues we create must be, and must stay, competitive in their offer in order to stay relevant and be truly sustainable. The environmental agenda continues to represent the some of the most important issues that we face and in this context the drive for improved solutions too is vital. Jon concluded by showing us several examples of good responses to the various agendas, illustrating how those acting across a number of the agendas were most effective, and leaving us with the message that our sector was not only responding positively to the challenges but raising the bar for the wider design and construction industries. The briefing was met with much enthusiasm around the room and aroused discussions around security and transport implications for venues at major events. There was also an update from MEI talking about the recent trip to Brazil as well as up and coming events in 2012, which are listed below.

Additional information