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American Express Community Stadium

Brighton & Hove Albion



Self-Inspired Piece

Completed 2011

Model size : 1212mm x 1020mm

Scale : 1:220  Circa 2011

This is an interpretation of a modern football arena set in the idyllic surroundings not normally associated with English football. Fourteen years without a permanent home, the new American Express Community Stadium represents more than concrete and steel to its supporters and owners; it represents survival, and the start of a prosperous new beginning. Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club not only have their new and permanent home but an environment in which to grow bigger than ever before.

This model was completed in November 2011, taking an estimated 1200 man hours to research and build. Its built to a scale of 1: 220. Beautifully hand crafted from scratch, this piece has been patiently sculpted and formed to produce this breathtaking interpretation of the real thing.


The Stadium Layout

The basic stadium comprises four stands with a total capacity off 22,500 seats; the main west stand being the biggest holding 11,833. The West Stand has three decks and houses all the corporate and match day facilities. The East Stand opposite has a single deck with 5,404 seats. The steel work for an upper deck has been fitted, just leaving the seating terrace missing. This stand has corporate and family facilities as well as home seats. The North Stand behind the home goal holds 2,688 seats on a single deck. Situated behind this seating deck is a three floor facility housing club offices, club shop, supporters bar and other administrative areas. The South Stand is the away end, behind the other goal. This has a capacity of 2,575 and host all the away supporters' facilities. The expansion option would be an upper deck for the East Stand and to build in each corner, increasing the capacity by an extra 8000 seats, taking the total capacity to 30,500. A suspended roof covers all four sides and corner areas. This is supported from above by two giant steel arches over the East and West Stands. For me, the roof is one of the most eye-catching features of the stadium. 

The Challenge

The challenge was to create a close interpretation of the real thing. The model had to look and feel right. I photograph my work regularly throughout the building process to make sure the perspectives are correct. When the finished piece is completed, it should not always be obvious to the observer when looking at a photo that it's a model. Thats how good I want my work to be. Studying the design I decided I would build the model in three main sections. By achieving this, I could work on any part at any stage of the build process.


Firstly, I wanted to be able to remove the entire roof structure in one piece and easily. Secondly, to build the stadium itself independently of the surrounding outside concourse, and thirdly, have all the outer stadium concourse and surrounding land built in one solid removable frame. All the other second and third phase work would fit within these three main parts.

Working blind

Because I started the model when the real thing was still under construction, I had to leave a lot of loose ends open until more information became available. I had the blue-prints to work from so I could get the basics of the stadium laid out to scale and make a start.

Making a start

I drew up my plans to scale and, using props, I mapped out the pitch and surrounding track area, and from there build the basic four stands. This enabled me to get the basics of the inside of the stadium correct ready for the roof structure to be built. Because the roof was going to be built in one piece, I wanted to build this first. In a sense: build from the top down.


Getting roof right

The roof design for this stadium has long sweeping curves the length of the pitch on each side, and slopes down, across the pitch, from west to east. The fundamental design of the stadium was to blend into the surrounding landscape, hence the circular contours to the stadium.The highest point of the roof is the central west position with the lowest being the north and south corners on the east side. After finding the correct material for the transparent blue roof covering, I built the two external arch supports. These are the two prominent features that keep the roof up; they also maintain the main cylindrical shape. I then fitted the roof purlins to the underneath of the roof covering. The real roof frame is constructed with massive steel I-beams. These I-beams have all been cut and recreated by hand using a scalpel, then patiently fitted to the purlins. The bracing supports and gantries would be fitted later. The roof for this model was a key feature because the observer would be viewing from above and not looking up to the building as you normally would.


Lay of the land

There's been a lot of excavation on the site to make way for this stadium, so I decided to build a frame that surrounds the stadium perimeter filling out all the way to the four outer sides of the model. This frame is made from balsa wood and built up to the various heights needed to create the landscape. This gave me the surface to build the roads, car parks, outer concourse areas, railway and all other surface features. This frame is then screwed down to a solid MDF base.


Second phase work

Once all the basic structure was completed, I started all the second phase work. This included all landscaping work surrounding the stadium as well as the concourse areas and outer stadium detail. I've used mounting board for a lot of the concourse, roads and tarmac areas. This is all fitted to the balsa wood frame that's fixed to the MDF base. I've sculpted the railway from clay and formed the embankments from wood then sanded them smooth ready for finishing. Inside the stadium I fitted all the seats and aisle areas, formed and fitted the vomitories, put in the players' tunnel and the walls that divide the stands from the pitch as well as all the other concreted areas. I then formed the unfinished south east and south west corners, built the north east and north west corner buildings and completed a lot of the outer stadium detail including the glazed and surface areas at the back of the stands. All the doors and turnstiles would be put in later.


Third phase detail

By this stage the model was well established and ready for most of the third phase

detail; this is all the fine intricate detail that always seems to take more time than anticipated. Firstly, I worked on all the outer detail: roads and pavements, trees and foliage, the railway bridge, car parks and grassed areas; all those fine detail elements that bring the model to life.


Inside the stadium I needed to build and fit the areas under the seating decks, the executive boxes and openly visible areas in the west stand and east stand. I was then able to fit all the turnstiles, entrances and exits on the outer concourse perimeter. I then put the pitch detail in and fashioned the goal posts. For the roof I added all the bracing beams and gantries; the four corner panels needed their framing put in and other loose ends complete.



To complete the model I had all the finishing to do. I have made and fitted all the miles of hand rails inside and outside the stadium, fenced the railway embankment and outer perimeter, formed the road barriers and created all the signage in and out of the stadium. Last of all I added some people and vehicles.

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