Will the MCC’s masterplan for Lord’s stand the test of time?

lordsI’ve had a small break from blogging brought on in part by the absorbing nature of this summer’s Ashes cricket. I was at Lord’s yesterday to witness a classic day’s play. England broke through in the morning, only to be frustrated by some admirable Australian belligerence later on.

The old stadium, like the tenacity of the Australian cricketers, never fails to impress me and its redevelopment is something that I find fascinating. I sat in the lower level of the Compton Stand, and once again admired the way that the ground manages to combine so much tradition and so much of what is modern. So it with mixed feelings that I learn that soon the old stand could be no more. The Marylebone Cricket Club, the ground’s owners, has recently commissioned Herzog & de Meuron, the architectural practice responsible for Beijing’s Bird Nest and Munich’s Allianz Arena, to design a masterplan for the ground’s redevelopment.

According to a report in Building Design, the plan is to increase the ground’s capacity by 11,000 to 40,000, with the existing Compton, Edrich, Warner, Allen and Tavern stands supplanted by “lectern-style edifices”. While The Times recently reported that the plan will also incorporate several subterranean levels and possibly incorporate the Victorian railway tunnels that exist beneath the ground. There will be a new museum and indoor school, as well as a further redevelopment of the pavillion.

Herzog & de Meuron were also responsible for the transformation of Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern, as well as the gallery’s extension, which is proving controversial. The redevelopment of Lord’s, while not without precedent, the old ground has always embraced new architectural styles, might prove even more divisive, but at least the increased capacity might make it easier to get hold of elusive tickets.