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ETFE Film Makes it Possible to Grow Natural Turf in a Multi-Use Arena

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Most people assume the playing surface of an indoor arena is artificial grass or turf. However, Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, constructed its roof using an ETFE film building material so they could grow natural grass and use the stadium year-round. When it opened in 2011, Forsyth Barr was the world’s first permanently enclosed stadium with a natural grass pitch.

The City’s Challenges

Designers and architects faced two main challenges when they began the project: building a multipurpose facility that could be used year-round in any weather. The city’s modest population of 119,000 people could not support a sole-sport arena, so the new venue would need to house a variety of local sport, cultural and entertainment events.

Dunedin’s climate is often cold and wet, so the stadium would need to be enclosed with a permanent roof to keep visitors warm and dry. To attract local fans to the live entertainment, designers opted to create something never seen before – an enclosed stadium with a natural grass surface.

ETFE Film Blows Away the Competition

To find the right material for the roof, the design team created test rigs from various roofing materials to grow grass over a two-yearperiod. Over the course of the testing process, ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) film emerged as the clear winner, producing the healthiest turf. In fact, the grass grown under ETFE film was healthier and greener than grass grown outdoors. This innovative film has natural ventilation and makes it possible to customize the sun strike levels.

Designers specified Fluon® ETFE film to cover the roof and part of the facades. They designed the stands on the northern end lower to allow maximum sunlight onto the pitch, and they designed the end facades 5 meters above ground to allow fresh air across the pitch.

Other benefits of Fluon ETFE film:

  • Light transparency up to approximately 90%
  • Extreme temperature resistance
  • Lightweight (1% of the weight of glass)
  • Superior durability and high-tear strength
  • Long-term weatherability

See it in action!

To learn more about Fluon ETFE film, click here.

Photos courtesy of Populous.

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