Westpac Stadium designer Ralph Roberts still rates the site as his favourite building, but he says it’s time for a rethink if the venue is to bring back the crowds.
His ideas include recladding the corrugated iron cladding with transparent panels, a plastic roof, seating closer to the edge of the playing field and a totally new business model to pull the punters back.
Roberts said the 14-year-old stadium remained a favourite because its donut shape was such a strong, simple idea. “It is a very good building. It was built on a budget by a dedicated team to get it there and it has looked after itself.”
The “Cake Tin” label – referring to its corrugated iron walls – did not worry him. A description given by people outside of Wellington. To locals it is “The Stadium”.
He explained that the choice of material was pragmatic, it was the most cost-efficient way of keeping weather out, but “given it’s paid for itself now I would remove the corrugated iron and glaze the whole stadium to let people look out”.
“They’ve put a window on one side of the stadium but now they should put together a plan to glaze it right around over five to 10 years.”
Roberts was bemused that for its first 10 years the stadium was criticised for not being big enough but it was now being slated as too big and that spectators were too far from the action.
His solution would be to revive an idea, first offered in the original design, to put bleachers on the sidelines and bring the crowd closer by closing off the top rows by dropping a curtain from the corporate boxes.
Roberts believed that roofing the stadium would also be feasible using a light but strong ETFE bubble-plastic roof supported by four big columns inside the donut.