It was a challenging job to deliver the interiors for the best stadium in the world
Client Tottenham Hotspur FC
Interior design (GA and overall concept) Jump Studios
Premium hospitality interiors F3 Architects & Interiors
Landscape architect Populous
Planning consultant DP9
Structural engineer BuroHappold Engineering & Schlaich Bergermann Partner (roof design)
M&E consultant BuroHappold Engineering
Quantity surveyor Arcadis
Lighting consultant BuroHappold Engineering
Main contractor Mace
Location Tottenham, London, UK
Start on site 01/2015
Completion date 04/2019
Gross internal floor area 120,000 sq m
Form of contract and/ or procurement Construction management
Total cost Confidential
Words by Sophie Tolhurst
‘The best stadium in the world’ – what could be more simple as a brief? This is what Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy asked of the new Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC) Stadium. To meet this challenge, Populous was recruited as the architects, an unsurprising choice given its reputation for stadia design around the world and track record with many of the UK’s landmark stadia, such as the Olympic stadium (now London Stadium), Wembley and the Emirates – home of Spurs’ rival team Arsenal.
Jump Studio’s Liam Doyle describes the new stadium as a ‘catalyst for change’ for the north London area of Tottenham. Credit: Hufton + Crow
The interiors were conceived and designed by Jump Studios, an interiors practice that merged with Populous in 2015. The stadium was their first collaborative job and a daunting challenge, taken on by Jump Studio’s project lead Liam Doyle. His team was responsible for the general admission (GA) concourses as well as the overall interiors concept, while detailing and delivery for the hospitality areas and player areas were done by F3 Architects & Interiors – a specialist in premium interiors, but more importantly, a practice that has already done significant work with the football club for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, the club’s charitable arm, as well as The Lodge, which provides player recovery facilities adjacent to the THFC training centre in Enfield, north London. F3 had hoped and dreamed it might be involved in the ultimate THFC project – the club’s new home and stadium.
The stadium opened for its inaugural match in April
The stadium opened for its inaugural match on 3 April 2019. Getting it to this point required a lot of dedication, pushed on by Levy’s investment and passion for the project. Jump Studios describes him as ‘a very demanding client for all the right reasons … one of those rare people who is amazing at the detail, as well as having the big vision’. The stadium is colossal, its individual technical feats matching the scope of its ambition and the enormous budget. Although the total cost is confidential, you can guess at the astonishing amounts involved.
Project costs have been kept confidential. Credit: Hufton + Crow
Football means money – not only in terms of how much a fan pays for their love of the game, but the value of broadcast rights and more for the international football market. The stadium embodies this and its superlative nature starts upon entering the multi-storey atria, an endless glass wall on one side, with a wraparound screen of groundbreaking size on the other. Once inside the bowl, which has a 62,000 capacity, you see the UK’s largest single-tier stand on the south side, which seats an uninterrupted wall of 17,500 supporters.
The football pitch is retractable. A NFL playing surface is revealed when it slides underneath the south stand to the right
The fans are at the heart of it all, and Jump Studios and Populous aimed to ‘redefine the fan experience at every level’. While Populous is an expert in the field, Jump Studios felt it was to its advantage to be new to stadia design, and the fresh ideas the team brought to the table delighted the football club. Wanting to outreach anything that existed already, Jump Studios looked to the wider field of hospitality: buzzing street food markets, the new league of high-street offerings, and the best restaurants in the West End. All this went into its work on the GA concourses, doing the best it could for the ‘true fan zone’. The stadium now opens two to three hours before and after a game, offering-up all the stuff of pre- and post-match ritual on site.
The Tunnel Club. The glass at the end of the room gives fans a view of the players walking out of the tunnel onto the pitch
There’s even a pop-up barber shop to get fans ready for the occasion. In order to get the supporters into this area and keep them there, the team had to ‘change their perception of the stadium and what it has to offer’. This works to the club’s advantage: increasing ‘dwell time’ means the money spent by fans on site, rather than outside, goes up accordingly.
There are two levels of retail space and a sunken theatre space within the shop
Another of the main objectives was to democratise the traditionally contrasting experiences for the GA and premium fans. This meant unprecedented quality and choice of facilities for the 54,000 GA fans, moving beyond the cheap pint and pie of tradition to an array of as many as 45 varied food outlets. In the Market Place fans might head to the ‘longest bar in Europe’, its 65m length representing the width of the goal line.
The changing rooms were redesigned a number of times in order to get them right for the players
The central section is a dedicated high-volume bar serving bottom-filled pints that are ready in only three seconds (which the fans love, and it has proven a hit on social media). Bookending this on either side is a craft beer section selling local brewery Beavertown’s range. This has been brewed on site in its dedicated microbrewery – a real stadium first. Even the landscape of the hospitality areas has changed, with a physical move from ‘hole-in-the-wall’ outlets to theatre kitchens, a dining experience that grabs fans’ attention either side of the main event.
A variety of premium hospitality facilities are available and depend on your budget
The design teams brought in specialists to thoroughly consider all the factors that enter into stadia design. Acoustics were hugely important, whether in the bowl, the media centre or the restaurants. Another consideration was accessibility – no fan should have anything but the best experience. Among all that has been achieved, the innovations made in this field (often at considerable effort and expense) are worth a special mention. While there are more accessible bays in the bowl than in any other stadium, the provision for disabled fans continues with slopes and discreet lifts, while for the hospitality areas F3 was proud to show its joiners’ innovation of a lowerable counter section, so that all can enjoy the theatre kitchen’s close-up view of the chefs at work.
A variety of premium hospitality facilities are available and depend on your budget
While standards have been raised considerably for all the GA facilities, being the ‘best stadium’ in the world meant that premium hospitality facilities had to take a step up too, although there are several categories and, in a sense, you do still get what you pay for. Some areas are more open, some more private. For the 55 individual boxes F3 created a range of bespoke options: different layouts, materials, and levels of facilities. For a price, these could be entirely customised for the buyer – after all, they’ve bought into it for up to 10 years. There are also plenty of options for premium dining – the best of the best, albeit with a ‘traditionally male’ theme, such as steak and red wine, as F3 explains. One nice touch is Galvin at Tottenham, which came about because renowned chef Chris Galvin is a lifelong Spurs fan.
There are three ‘destination island bars’ to be found on the general admission concourses, including the Dispensary. Credit: Hufton + Crow
Other exclusive areas include The H Club – up on level 4 of the west stand – and for a number of fans the Tunnel Club is the ultimate experience, with its player-adjacent position in the bowels of the stadium. In a project of this size and ambition, the demands of all the different parties sometimes have conflicting needs, and the Tunnel Club presents such a challenge. As the name suggests, it is about being down in the stadium, with an opportunity to view to the all-important tunnel where the teams wait to enter the pitch. However, the club cannot compromise the players in any way. The solution was to separate the two spaces with a glass wall, which is two layers thick for safety’s sake, tinted, and has blinds that can be closed to shield injured players from the fans’ gaze. The Tunnel Club is thoroughly football-inspired – individual guest lockers are meant to mimic a locker room, and diagrams of player formations in the floor encourage diners to talk tactics.
Beavertown’s range of craft beers is made at the stadium in a microbrewery. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
The design of the real player areas was all important, with that of the changing rooms so crucial that they were redesigned a number of times before being finished. The result should have everything the players need to perform at their best. Each footballer has their own locker, personalised for each game with their name via a video display. There is a double-hanger for top and shorts, a seat that faces in towards the middle for team talks, and a secure locker to guard personal items. Technology ranges from air-charging for phones to low-level extraction, which whips the smells of the players’ exertions away from the room at foot level. Beyond the changing rooms there are spa-like facilities: plunge pools with carefully positioned TV screens, a gym and medical facilities. For the players’ families there is a private lounge and a creche for their children. As F3 says: ‘If the families are happy, the players are happy.’
To this club and fiercely loyal fans, the best surely means the design must feel like Spurs through and through. The club keeps its history close to its heart, and the new stadium pays homage to this. For example, the three ‘destination island bars’ of the GA concourses are linked to local landmarks in name and appearance, and even use reclaimed material. There is The Shelf, referring to Archibald Leitch’s 1934 stand; the White Hart for the site’s old Charrington’s brewery; and the Dispensary, a nod to the Tottenham and Edmonton Dispensary, its facade now reused in the stadium shop. The centrepiece of it all is Spurs’ iconic cockerel; the famous roof piece takes pride of place once more on top of the stadium, although now scaled up to suit the new super-sized dimensions.
The colour palette uses extensive amounts of Spurs’ signature blue and white, although the hospitality areas have a wider palette. The designers chose to include lots of natural materials, with F3 commenting it wanted ‘something raw and honest, to reflect Tottenham, to reflect the fans’. Bricks and timber have been reclaimed, and the polished structural floor reveals aggregates from the demolition of White Hart Lane. As F3 explains: ‘We like to think the strength of the stadium comes from what was there previously.’ The various design teams also worked throughout with branding agency Forward Associates to ensure the continuity of message across the space, and F3’s attention to finishes translates this for the premium hospitality areas.
Despite the challenge of a project of this scale and detail – for example, opening 27 restaurants on the same day – the stadium has surpassed expectations financially. And there is far more to come. As you approach the stadium via the high road, it looms into view long before you actually reach Tottenham. White Hart Lane stadium stood on the site for 118 years, and very much grew with Tottenham, whereas the new THFC Stadium has an enormous physical presence in the local area. A project of this scale, ambition and cost is intended to last for a long time, to stand on this site for as long as White Hart Lane did.
The Goal Line Bar is said to be the ‘longest bar in Europe’. Credit: Hufton + Crow
Jump Studio’s Liam Doyle describes the new stadium as a ‘catalyst for change’ for Tottenham. It provides around 4,000 new jobs, and is only part of Spurs’ presence in the area – as Ian Laurence, associate director at F3, explains, the club is pouring this money into the area, and through the foundation it is adept at connecting with a demographic of local boys and young men. With all that Spurs has achieved with the new stadium, the hope is that its impact will benefit the area for a long while to come.
Parts of the stadium are designed to be utilised on non-match days as well as match days. The shop wanted to be a year-round destination. As well as offering the latest kit, F3 decided to introduce more interactivity, with two levels to the retail space and a sunken theatre space, which has already hosted popular events such as an EA Games tournament.
Still under construction is a museum, to be located in and around the Grade II listed building Warmington House, which will house the Spurs archive. Saved from demolition, this restored, historic building sits in the centre of the Tottenham Experience visitor space, breaking up the contemporary facade of the stadium.
From Soccer to NFL, Concerts and Rugby
While the stadium seems the ultimate football experience, what is yet more impressive is the way areas can be overlaid to perform other purposes. The showstopper moment is that the football pitch slides entirely under the single-tier south stand, revealing a surface for NFL games (the first is scheduled for this October), while in the future rugby matches (with Spurs having signed a deal with Saracens) and concerts will be held.
The stadium will also play host to the NFL
The hospitality spaces correspondingly have to adjust too, with the H Club repurposed as an NFL broadcast space. Some areas are custom-made for NFL – their facilities are like those for Spurs, but literally scaled up: the squad is 90 players, and due to the typical NFL player’s physique, everything else is bigger too. The lockers are much larger, at 90cm, corridors are wider, shower heads are higher, and because wall-mounted toilets couldn’t be trusted, the pans are on the floor. Design details include the NFL crest in the floor and ceiling, and in the hospitality area adjacent the slogans are both football- and NFL-friendly.