Fulham FC project over for Heatherwick Studio as Populous take the reins on Riverside Stand
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Fulham FC project over for Heatherwick Studio as Populous take the reins on Riverside Stand

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Our home ground will blend history and the contemporary like no stadium in this land or beyond

Fulham FC have appointed global sports architects Populous to lead the redesign of the Riverside Stand at the club’s London home, Craven Cottage.

In his programme notes for the Championship match against Hull City on 13 September, Fulham FC chairman Shahid Khan pledged that the project will “transcend the customary standards of football grandstands” by including riverside pubs and restaurants, event facilities, green spaces and public access to a river walk along the Thames.

London design firm Heatherwick Studio previously developed a broad concept for the Riverside Stand and its surrounding area as part of a business case study, but CLADglobal understands their involvement in the project is now over, with Populous responding to a new brief.

In April 2016, Khan had claimed that Heatherwick Studio founder Thomas Heatherwick would “bring to life what the project, the neighbourhood and the Fulham community deserve”.

By appointing Populous, Khan is reuniting with a firm he has worked with closely before. In May this year the practice completed a stadium extension for US National Football League (NFL) franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars – a team Khan also owns.

In his notes for the Hull City game Khan did not acknowledge a change in strategy, but said he has been “deliberate in reviewing concepts, interviewing designers and studying the economics of what will turn out to be a signature project for an entire community”, so as to avoid “making a mistake that wouldn’t serve our club, the neighbourhood and all of London both immediately and for generations”.

He added that, as reimagined by Populous, Craven Cottage “will blend history and the contemporary like no stadium in the land or beyond”.

Plans to redevelop the Riverside Stand have been in the pipeline for years, with the club aiming to increase the stadium’s capacity by 4,300 seats, taking its capacity to 30,000.

The club previously stated that any design of the new stand should mirror the bend in the Thames; reduce the impact of floodlighting on the river; be sympathetic in scale to the adjoining stands and trees to the south; and take advantage of the riverside location.

It appears the project is now accelerating, with pre-application documents submitted to Fulham and Hammersmith Council last week and a formal planning application to local authorities scheduled to take place later this year. A preliminary design sketch has also been released.

Two public exhibitions showcasing Populous’ plans will take place at the Cafe at the Cottage between 2pm and 8pm on 12 October and between 9am and 1pm on 14 October, prior to the club’s match against Preston North End.

Populous have designed a number of London’s major football grounds, including Wembley Stadium, in collaboration with Foster + Partners; Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium; West Ham United’s London Stadium; and Tottenham Hotspur’s forthcoming new-look White Hart Lane.

The practice also completed the new Warners Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground in May this year.

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Fulham FC have appointed global sports architects Populous to lead the redesign of the Riverside Stand at the club’s London home, Craven Cottage.
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