Arsenal Emirates Stadium

  • Arsenal Emirates Stadium outside
  • Arsenal Emirates Stadium first match
  • Arsenal Emirates Stadium pitch
  • Arsenal Emirates Stadium stands

1 / Introduction

August 2006 saw the opening game at  the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium in London, the new home for Arsenal FC, one of Europe’s most prestigious and successful premiership football clubs. This opening game marked the beginning of a new era for the club and the stadium won a rapturous response from players and fans alike.

BuroHappold’s engineers worked on almost all aspects of the building and its surrounding developments, requiring the same level of team co-ordination consistently seen on the pitch in order to score the successes that have now been delivered.

Key facts

  • The shape of the roof allows the maximum amount of sunlight to hit the pitch
  • Roof covers 26,000m² containing 2,900 tonnes of tubular steel 
  • Computer modeling of crowd behaviour informed design
  • Column-free views for all 60,000 spectators.
  • Spaces for wheelchair users and all seating levels are fully accessible

The Project Details

Arsenal Football Club


BuroHappold services:
Multi-disciplinary engineering services including structural engineering design, civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, bridges and building services engineering, infrastructure, fire engineering, disability design and security consulting services, SMART solutions

2 / Challenge

The brief for the Emirates Stadium, just a short walk from Arsenal’s previous 38,000-seat ground in Highbury, north London, was to provide a world-class stadium with the best sight lines, playing surface and atmosphere in the English Premiership. Meeting the needs of a modern club in terms of spectator comfort and facilities, media access and excellent corporate facilities was paramount while recreating the unique territorial atmosphere that Arsenal generated at its previous home.

The site itself provided big challenges for the design team. As well as being a very tight, triangular site, it was formerly home to an industrial estate and waste transfer station for Islington Council. BuroHappold carried out a full environmental impact assessment of the site and supervised the subsequent remediation work before having to plan the construction sequencing to fit with these tricky constraints.

3 / Solution

The stadium design was shaped to literally fit the plan constraints of our tight triangular site – oval in plan, the building was set out to nestle into the available space. This provided a key geometric driver for the planning and layout of the accommodation and superstructure, all to ensure that we could accommodate the required spectator numbers to world class comfort standards.

The roof to the Emirates Stadium is unique and was shaped in response to the local authority planning guidelines that dictated a reduced headroom for the building – our site constraints were not just in plan, they were vertical as well. Of course whilst these constraints provide challenges for the designers, the results are always special and different and the Emirates Stadium is a unique building that has been constructed to suit its specific requirements, both from our client and from our site.

We didn’t just look after the client, the spectators and the players, we also looked after the grass.  The shape of the roof allows the maximum amount of sunlight to hit the pitch to maintain grass quality while offering unrestricted views for all 60,000 spectators. The downward sloping roof tiles, attached to the underside of the structural steelwork to maximise the opening above the pitch, also reduce the degree of shadow falling on the pitch. This gives more consistent light levels for television cameras and helps improve the match atmosphere for the fans by partially trapping crowd noise, delivering that all-important atmosphere.

4 / Value

The result of BuroHappold’s work is that the Emirates Stadium has been recognised worldwide as a triumph in design and usability which has helped create a new football landmark for Arsenal FC and for London. Arsenals business has strengthened on the back of new revenue streams and stronger future security that could only have been secured on the back of a successful stadium project.