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AJ Architecture Awards 2019 winner: Leisure

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium by Populous has been named best leisure project at the 2019 AJ Architecture Awards 

The new Spurs stadium endured a troubled construction phase and opened several months late at a reported cost of around £1 billion. Yet what architect and stadium expert Populous and its fellow team members have accomplished stands as an ‘extraordinary achievement’, according to the judges. The stadium has real civic presence, boasts a ‘mind-boggling’ array of hospitality and is so technically advanced that it ‘takes stadium architecture on a huge step’, they said.

Of particular note is the stadium’s ability to provide a home for American football’s NFL without compromising its Premier League football facilities. This is achieved through a ‘world-first’ retractable pitch design, whereby the grass football pitch can be split into three sections and slid away to reveal the artificial NFL playing surface beneath.

The judges were also impressed by the stadium’s sustainability strategy. This included reuse of parts of the old White Hart Lane stadium, such as brick and hardcore, natural ventilation strategies and reduced use of materials on elements such as the arena’s lightweight cable net roof.

‘There are some gorgeous architectural spaces around the stadium and the retail elements are well-proportioned,’ said one judge. ‘Everywhere is high-quality, including the toilets.’ 

Highly commended

3. ahr places leisure eastleigh pool 0

3. ahr places leisure eastleigh pool 0

Source: Daniel Hopkinson / AHR

Places Leisure Eastleigh by AHR

‘The building is positioned and designed brilliantly and little details have made a massive difference,’ said the judges. ‘If only every architect had the passion to do something basic this well.’ 


  • RHS Garden Hyde Hall Hilltop Complex by Cullinan Studio
  • Park House by East architecture, landscape urban design
  • Curious Brewery by Guy Hollaway Architects
  • Coal Drops Yard by Heatherwick Studio
  • The Machrie by Hudson Architects
  • Wildernesse Restaurant by Morris+Company 


  • Lucy Bullivant, founder, Urbanista.org
  • Tony Chapman, former head of awards, RIBA
  • Anna Woodeson, director, LTS Architects

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