John Rhodes, a director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, met with Jamie Roberts (Wales), Tim Visser (Scotland), James Horwill (Australia) and Danny Care (England) to capture their ideas, both as players and fans.
From the impact of fans on the game itself, to the frustrations of rival changing rooms, the players offered key insights while Rhodes shared innovative design solutions, including fiber-optic turf and glass roof seating, that could soon be common in stadiums. HOK has just released the conversation and findings in a new video that includes imagery of the rugby stadium of tomorrow.
“Any modern, iconic sports ground must provide an exceptional experience for fans,” said Rhodes. “The unique passion of fans is fundamental to the sport and, as architects, we need to design stadiums that maximize this energy. Rugby fans are especially unique. They are sophisticated fans who know and have experienced a variety of venues, which elevates the standards for a rugby stadium.”
Rhodes’ project experience spans venues, F1 circuits, race tracks, high-performance training facilities and conference and exhibition centres including Silverstone, the Dubai World Expo and a confidential arena in the Middle East. He is currently leading the design of the New Palau Blaugrana arena for FC Barcelona.
“The players gave us exceptional insight into what affects elite athletes,” added Rhodes. “As avid fans, they also provided an invaluable perspective. This has improved our understanding of how to design the best stadiums for both rugby fans and players.”
“Having played at most of the iconic rugby grounds around the world, it was great to speak with HOK about what made each special—or especially challenging,” said Roberts. “What motivates you at your home ground is different from what inspires you when you play away. However, I don’t just play rugby. I’m an avid spectator and the considerations for the fan experience are equally important. Some of the ideas we discussed would transform the game-day experience. I look forward to seeing how our conversation impacts where I play or spectate in the future.”