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Hitting a boundary

Maber Associates was batting on a sticky wicket when it designed its new stand at Trent Bridge cricket ground

In architecture, getting a good site in a prime location is an important first step in the scheme's viability. When Maber Associates was commissioned to design the Fox Road stand at Trent Bridge, it knew it had a prime location (having already designed two of the ground's other spectator stands) - the only problem was, it did not seem to have a site.

The stand was desperately needed to provide extra capacity to meet Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club's target of 15,365 seats.

Since there was only one open end of the ground remaining undeveloped, there was no other option. It was agreed that this area needed some kind of architectural closure to enhance the intimacy of the Trent Bridge venue - but the site had been leased to Nottingham County Council as a car park.

Fortunately, the terms of the lease allowed the cricket club to develop air rights above the car park. This dictated an elevated design to allow vehicular movement underneath.

The basic structure, which seats 2,300 people, has been constructed on a raised steel frame faced at the boundary side with brickwork. The main columns supporting the rear of the seating extend upwards to take the canopy and steel stays. The canopy provides a longitudinal curve of tubular steel and Zed-purlins, clad in profiled metal and colour-coated aluminium. The underside of the raked steel support beams has been framed out with tubular steel hangers and I-section purlins to carry the sweep of the profiled metal cladding which act as the car park soffit.

Only three metres above the ground level at its highest point, the downstand steel beams and the rake of the soffit in the designated car park reduces the clear height further and it appears somewhat oppressive. Clearly, design solutions were governed by site constraints.

Because of the site restrictions, the terracing does not extend down to ground level - as in 'traditional' cricket venues - but the architect pragmatically cites several advantages to this; not least the excellent sight lines and the fact that people walking around the pitch will not obstruct the action.

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