Hitting the Right Pitch – Technology Takes Over Twickenham Stadium


For the first time in history, pitch and event pioneers Polytan together with England Hockey, Polypipe and natural turf consultants STRI, have successfully transformed London’s Twickenham The Stoop Stadium to host the FIH Pro-League Hockey finals.

Just as the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games was the first major hockey tournament on synthetic turf, the Pro-League event at The Stoop has changed the shape of the game with the drop of a pitch – forever.

The world-class facility saw Great Britain’s men and women fight for victory against the New Zealand Black Sticks in a doubleheader, on a transportable pitch of stadium scale.

Dion Gosling, our Principal Architect, was invited as a VIP guest to witness this entrepreneurial era awakening of ‘Big Stadium Hockey.’

Also a former Black Stick, Gosling described the game as “flowing with energy, moving rhythmically to the swirls of music and the crowd’s cheer that surrounded.”

The seamless turf integration allowed fans to soak up the magical atmosphere of the renowned stadium; while the logistics enabled the occasion. All that was needed was for the players and spectators to bring it to life!

Access to the existing stadium infrastructure allowed a positive shift of investment from costly temporary venue fixtures, into a unique spectator experience built for hockey. The turf’s durability meant children could play on the pitch after the game without the risk of field damage. This extended the little fans’ experience to beyond the game and will help create life-long stories. England Hockey also gifted the young fans sticks and fluorescent balls to remember their experience. These personal touches are not common in international sport but were part of the event unique experience.

With initial concerns raised around the tolerance of the turf, run and speed of play, these proved to be a non-issue, due to the invested efforts of Polytan, Polypipe, and STRI – it was their time to prove that pitch functionality can be perfectly possible, even on delicate grass.

There is a positive and definite trend in sport architecture to optimise large facilities so that they can adapt to host multiple sports disciplines. This is driven out of revenue requirements, but also from a sustainable and community value-add perspective. This visionary event has proved how hockey can uniquely contribute to this movement and be part of the ‘Big Stadium’ sports offering. The world-class portable turf was designed to be safely installed as a hockey pitch over the existing rugby field.

Gosling describes hockey as “a leader in gender equality; progressive rule modifications; clever event offerings and competitions. The sport now gets the additional benefits of reuse and sustainability that portable pitches provide. Showcasing the latest turf technology, spectator experience and eco-practices, the Twickenham Pro-League event is sure to be the first of many successful ‘Big Stadium Hockey’ events to come.”

106 Architects think the opportunities for hockey are endless. Imagine hockey delivered on the world’s most outstanding venues and stages: Federation Square, Rucker Park, the Centre Court at Wimbledon, the Sydney Opera House terrace, the Auckland Waterfront Stadium, Bondi Beach! And that’s not all – not only can the purist of the 11-aside game be taken to Twickenham, but the event creators and marketers can introduce the world to other modified short-forms of the game like Hockey 5s in the centre of Barcelona or the streets of LA.

As an agile sporting practice, 106 Architects are inspired by technology’s evolution and its involvement in uniting communities, cultures and people across the globe. Dion, our Principal Architect, is a panelist and speaker at the upcoming National Sporting Convention (NSC) next month in Melbourne. The 2019 NSC has been developed in conjunction with Australian and New Zealand key sport, active recreation, fitness and facility peak bodies, and will align with Sport Australia’s Sport 2030 vision.

Dion will be sharing ideas about the role of sporting surfaces and Centres of Excellence, and how they embrace the latest technologies, as well as what our future facilities and neighbourhoods may look like if we want to activate communities.

Re imagining our community facilities and the urban environment is a key theme. Utilising existing infrastructure for new sports is just the beginning.

Follow our journey or learn more about our current sporting projects and events @106Architects or visit our website 106architects.com