Wescol Structures, Hutter Jennings and Titchmarsh

Celtic Park North Stand

If it had not been for the generosity and insistence of one individual, the stand would never have been built.

A change in the UK regulations for sports stadiums meant that clubs such as Celtic had to change from having a mostly standing audience to an all seater one. The board at Celtic had almost decided that it would be easier to relocate to a brand new purpose built stadium, than to redevelop the existing one.

However, Fergus McCann, an expatriate Scottish businessman who was at the time resident in Canada, had a vision for the Club to remain at its traditional home of Celtic Park. This extended to a 60,000 person capacity all seater stadium, constructed ih phases, in wrap around or arena format, and when he bought the club in April 1994, he set about realizing that vision.

Design Integration

At the very outset, it became clear to the designers Hutter Jennings & Titchmarsh that the provision of a 60,000 seat stadium at Celtic Park would be no easy task. To achieve the required capacity along the North side of the pitch, a number of physical constraints had to be overcome.

The available site area was severely restricted by the public highway along the north boundary, with the cemetery beyond preventing any movement in that direction.

The ground underlying the site had been extensively quarried and shallow seams of coal had been mined up to the mid nineteenth Century. In addition, further investment in construction work at the South Stand having been completed as recently as 1989, it was decided that this structure should remain largely untouched and then be incorporated within the overall stadium redevelopment.

The design team’s solutions to these constraints, evolved at an early stage, were innovative. Build over Janefield Street, the public highway, and cantilever the rear of the upper tier of seats back out over the cemetery by some 10 metres.

The uncertainties of ground conditions were overcome by filling old mine workings with cementitious grout. Demolition of the old structures and underground grouting works were started in advance of Phase I of the scheme, providing 26,500 seats. Site work commenced in November 1994, with a forty week construction period giving completion in August 1995 – in time for the start of the Scottish football season.

Main Structure

The structure for the new stand is founded on 750 precast concrete driven piles with reinforced concrete pilecaps.

Structural steel was chosen for the framework, with precast concrete terraces and concourse units, giving the maximum off – site fabrication and enabling speedy erection and rapid release to following trades.

All the steelwork was hot dip galvanized with no subsequent overcoating. The temptation to apply paint to the galvanized coating was resisted, as there was no aesthetic need to do so and the extensive maintenance free life of the coating would be taken full advantage of.

“In sports stadia design, it is usually the secondary steelwork – handrails, barriers and purlins – which have been the traditional use of galvanized steel. This stadium uses hot dip galvanizing for the essential protection of the primary structure.”
Peter Trebilcock

Modern stadium designs are generally column free; this is achieved either by using a full length girder parallel to the pitch or providing a cantilever roof structure supported from behind the rear-most row of seats. Use of a full length girder – 200m would be required at Celtic Park – was qickly discounted as uneconomic, and the cantilever roof design was adopted at an early stage.

To accommodate the required number of seating rows, a 47.4m cantilever was necessary and the same design has been adopted for the east and west stands and the NE and NW corner structures.

However, this has had to be modified along the north side to limit the incursion of the structure over the cemetery. In giving permission for the structure to overhang their ground, the Parks and Recreation department of the District Council had also requested that no plant or machinery operate within the cemetery.

In order to meet these constraints economically, a compromise solution had to be developed and the true cantilever cross – section was modified next to the cemetery by the introduction of prop columns at alternate bays. This enabled the overhanging of the cemetery by the knee bracing of the rear of the cantilever to be reduced from a potential 18m to a more acceptable 10m, and simplified the foundation design, albeit with the penalty of introducing columns and consequently a limited number of restricted view seats.

The principal judge for the Construction Award, Peter Trebilcock, said: “In sports stadia design, it is usually the secondary steelwork – handrails, barriers and purlins – which have been the traditional use of galvanized steel. This stadium uses hot dip galvanizing for the essential protection of the primary structure”

“The design team, of which the steel fabricator was very much a part, adopted a decision to leave the structure exposed as galvanized. This saved the client the cost of applying a paint finish, which was unnecessary in both technical and architectural terms. This is a confident and robust application exhibiting an understanding of the performance of the material and process involved.”

Images © Keith Hunter

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