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Contemporary Cathedrals: Designing Football Stadiums

Join this conversation between titans of stadium design Populous and Zaha Hadid Architects and thinkers exploring how the fan experience of the beautiful game is shaped by their surroundings.

What to expect

Join us for an evening panel discussion on how the world’s most impressive stadiums came to be.

Football stadia have the power to evoke fervour like no other architectural typology. Simultaneously a democratising and divisive space, the stadium is an emotionally charged space that is linked to a notion of collective cultural identity. A site of triumph and loss, community and conflict, and unquestioning allegiance to the sport, the stadium is the theatre for ambitions to succeed or fail.

Since the first football stands in the 19th century, stadium design has evolved dramatically. To match the scale of the spectacle taking place within them, football stadium design has become increasingly elaborate, symbolising victory for a team and its fans, or national prestige on a global level.

Exploring how the stadium became such a valorised architecture typology, as well as how inclusive these spaces are for the communities they represent, this evening will feature titans of stadium architecture alongside experts documenting how fans exist within those spaces.

The panel will include Jim Heverin, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, currently involved in the design of the world’s first eco-stadium and Christopher Lee, Director of Populous, part of the team behind the RIBA 2021 award-winning redesign of Tottenham Hostpur. They will be joined by lecturer Jacqui McAssey, Founder of Girlfans zine, for an evening discussion exploring how these colossal structures shape the fan experience of the beautiful game, chaired by Season editor Felicia Pennant.


Christopher Lee

Christopher is the Managing Director for the EMEA region at architectural design firm Populous. With a portfolio of work that spans more than 30 stadiums on five continents, he has led the design of some of the world’s most iconic football grounds, including Arsenal F.C.’s Emirates Stadium, the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, and the new stadium for Tottenham Hotspur.

Felicia Pennant

Felicia is an award-winning journalist and creative consultant from London. She founded trailblazing football and fashion platform SEASON zine in 2016 to counter the male, pale, and sometimes stale state of modern football culture that was named one of the UK’s Best Independent Football Magazines by Hypebeast in 2019.

Jacqui McAssey

Jacqui is a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool School of Art & Design where her ongoing research focuses on fashion, fandom and sport. In 2013, she created GIRLFANS, a photo-zine which gives female football fans visibility and a sense of belonging in football culture.

Jim Heverin

Jim is responsible for the successful delivery of a number of Zaha Hadid Architects' most iconic projects including the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Games and the Al Janoub Stadium, Doha for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. A current stadium is the first all timber and low carbon design for Forest Green Rovers in Stroud.

Book online

Booking information

Adult: £12
Concession: £10
Members: £9

For your safety, increased cleaning has been implemented across the museum and face masks are encouraged.

A limited number of tickets are available through our Emerging Designers Access Scheme. If you are an emerging designer and facing financial barriers to attend, please register here.

related exhibition

Football: Designing the Beautiful Game

Fanatic supporter or part-time punter, discover the incredible stories of design behind the world's beautiful game.

Background image: Populous, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium photography by Edward Hill.