Cricket is changing. The sound of leather on willow now reverberates internationally – for both male and female teams – and new formats such as T20 and the recently inaugurated The Hundred competition, together with the international fixture list continue to stimulate global interest, but conversely also places huge pressure on major venues – creating both challenges and opportunities.
For more than 15 years we have been collaborating with Lancashire Cricket to realise a sustainable phased masterplan to transform Emirates Old Trafford into a premier, multi-functional international cricket and events venue. We began designing the radical redevelopment in 2005, delivering the award-winning events venue The Point and adaptively reusing the original pavilion that dated back to the mid 1800s, as well as creating a state of the art players and media centre. The new grandstand, hotel and visitor attraction will complete the masterplan, retaining its position as one of the largest cricket grounds in the UK.
Our first action in designing the masterplan was to re-orientate the square north-south so that bad light could no longer stop play. This move rebalances the centre of gravity for hospitality, dining and hotel accommodation to the north, with new grandstands placed either side of the Players’ and Media Centre to the south, opposite the Pavilion behind the bowler’s arm. To the west a huge flexible space allows for rapid scaling up and down of capacity, whilst also creating the perfect stage for festivals and concerts; in addition to the busy cricket calendar, the ground will host five concerts this summer for over 250,000 people.
A collaborative partnership with Trafford Council has made the redevelopment of this final eastern area possible. The proposed Red Rose project brings together a new grandstand, an additional 100 hotel rooms and suites, a pitch-side function space for hotel guests and members, along with a visitor attraction, shop and museum. The new building benefits from a new front door connecting Old Trafford Metrolink station to the south and Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams to the north. Tiered terracing completes the ground’s spectator viewing enclosure, together with a new hotel conceived as an elevated, open-sided, silver-profiled metal container affording views out east and west, the design echoing the nearby industrial dockside which inspired the original ground masterplan.
The ongoing success of Lancashire Cricket’s Old Trafford home has, in turn, created the need for additional capacity to nurture talent across the men’s and women’s game – a brand new second venue at Farington will fulfil these cricketing aspirations and needs. Both the function and the context are a complete contrast to the urban Old Trafford; located on agricultural land, our design approach minimises the impact of the new interventions and preserves the open, green character, maintaining its mature trees and hedgerows.
Biodiverse grasslands and native species planting, along with over 200 new trees supplement the landscape setting, creating a naturally-sheltered microclimate for cricket. The core elements of the project are two pitches – one for first class cricket, one for development and community cricket, anchored by a sensitively and sustainably designed pavilion building. The new ground will cater for daily use as a training centre of excellence and community social and events facility but can also scale up seamlessly for occasional match day events for up to 5,000 people.
We hope that we will welcome the Ashes back to a new home when the venues complete in 2023 and 2024 respectively.