“Revamping one of the oldest icons of world cricket and Mumbai was an intimidating task. Yet, it was the understanding of every inch of the stadium premises, having built it from scratch in 1974 that empowered us to transform the structure into a modern-day wonder.” 

These were the words said by Shashi Prabhu when the Wankhede Stadium was renovated in 2010. In 1974 Shashi Prabhu had built the stadium which has hosted countless matches, has heard the cheer ‘INDIA, INDIA’, has seen tears of joy during wins and tears of grief during losses.

New beginnings 

Mumbai Cricket Association had selected Shashi Prabhu and associated, PK Das and associates for the renovation of this iconic stadium that is located in Churchgate, Mumbai and covers an area of 44085m2. It is 30m high and has a 70m radius. Its original capacity was 45,000 but has now been reduced to 35000 spectators and has an addition of 72 luxury private boxes. The main aim of Shashi Prabhu was to create an obstruction-free view so he introduced a cantilever fabric roof. 

Apart from this major development, spaces for the players, VIP’s, press and commentators, a north and south stand were added, common amenities for spectators such as well distributed toilets, water supply, air conditioning, a fire and power supply system were worked on and a floodlight system was brought in. aesthetic aspects of the stadium were worked on as well by the addition of distinct colours inside and outside the field.

Wankhede Stadium by Shashi Prabhu: The oldest icons of Cricket World - Sheet1
The Wankhede stadium located between the sea shore and western railway line ©icccricketworldcup2011pk.blogspot.com

The idea was to create a relationship between the players and spectators and to achieve unity through architecture though the stadium had been designed based on its function. This was made possible by concentrating on the transition spaces, entrance gates and passages that now had distinct lighting and coloured flooring. The Wankhede Stadium has a total of 7 entrance gates, 20 staircases, 18 lifts and 35 emergency exits. These modifications were made to ensure safety and aid faster and smoother circulation which was another concern of Shashi Prabhu during the renovation process. 

Renovations were not carried out on just the surface level but at its roots as well, which is the foundation. The foundation and supporting column for the east and west stands were strengthened with the use of fibre-reinforced Kevlar and with the introduction of composite columns. Shashi Prabhu had designed a foundation that could hold four 70m high masts that rest over a pile foundation for lightening the ground at night time.

Wankhede Stadium by Shashi Prabhu: The oldest icons of Cricket World - Sheet2
Column free view ©www.republicworld.com

The highlight of the stadium

The highlight of this stadium and one of the biggest challenges Shashi Prabhu faced while renovating the Wankhede Stadium is the roof. He designed a 22m cantilevered roof. Bent tubular hollow sections were fabricated to be the support system of this massive cantilever. The steel roof had 45 trusses that were connected by 45 inner and outer compression rings and it was covered with PTFE coated glass tensile fabric. The trusses were connected to concrete columns with the help of connecting plates and insert plates. 

Temporary trestles were provided through spindle jack arrangement to provide adequate support to the cantilever but were removed later on. The total scope of the roof was approximately 4300m of the tubular pipe structure with a tensile plate and a gutter plate. In order to focus on his idea of an unobstructed view for spectators, Shashi Prabhu made sure that the trusses supporting north and south stand roofs start at 5.6m levels instead of from the ground level. These trusses were supported by cantilever beams. 

The width of the north and south stand roofs are 25.13m with a 5m pergola extension. The east and west stand roofs are 8.65m wide with a 5m pergola as well. The roof also had exhaust fans which sucked all the hot air out of the stands and allowed breeze from the west side to flow in, improving the ventilation of the stadium.

Wankhede Stadium by Shashi Prabhu: The oldest icons of Cricket World - Sheet3
The cantilevered roof covered with tensile fabric ©www.mykhel.com

Some of the other challenges faced by Shashi Prabhu during the renovation of the Wankhede stadium were finding skilled manpower on-site, availability of space to construct various parts of this large roof structure, time and noise restrictions and construction during the monsoon as the entire roof was a steel structure and the monsoon had led to the decrease of the soil bearing capacity of the site. This was overcome through area compaction by placing small boulders which increased the soil bearing capacity. 

The Wankhede Stadium is one of Shashi Prabhu’s largest projects not only back in the 1970s but also in times as recent as 2010. It is also one of the world’s best cricket stadiums. To be able to renovate one’s own project almost thirty years after constructing it must be a very bittersweet experience, to tear down parts of the old and worn out and to introduce and adapt to newer technology to make the structure better, to make the users experience better.

Author

Kavya Turaga is a third year architecture student from Bangalore. She believes that every building has a story and a soul, which helps in understanding its unique character. She finds inspiration in the smallest of things and is passionate about architectural photography.

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