Moving On: The New Den

Top Left: The Old and New Den superimposed on a 1914 Ordnance Survey map

Top Right: Street layout of Senegal Fields prior to demolition

Bottom Left: Houses built on the site of the Old Den

Bottom Right: The New Den under construction summer of 1993 while the Old Den in the background had hosted its last match


A few steps for a Lion, a giant leap for the Millwall kind (Picture from Aerofilms Guide)

The Architect's Sketch
The Architects Journal: Building Study  (September 1993) Millwall sets safety as its goal
Millwall FC's 20,000 capacity ground, the first new all seater stadium to be completed after the Taylor Report on the Hillsborough disaster, was designed with with effective crowd management in mind, the escape routes are short and direct.

The ground incorporates a local-authority sports centre and is well equipped with restaurants bars and toilet facilities, making it a flexible, multi use venue.

Architect's account   NICK PARKINSON

Partner, The Miller Partnership

The project outline brief was to provide an economical 20,000-capacity all-seater football stadium which retained the close and compact (not to say intimidating) atmosphere of the Den and would be available by the 1993 close-season deadline.

It was to be a joint venture with the borough of Lewisham, which would provide the land and some investment. In return, a sports centre for the local community was to be constructed as part of the development.

The site is triangular, surrounded on two sides by elevated railway lines, and on the third by light industrial units. The proportions of the site were such that the position was virtually predetermined at the south east end of the site to ensure adequate clearances around its perimeter for emergency egress and access.

Hemmed in by railway lines and a power station, the shape of the site dictated the positions of the stadium and sports hall

The stadium consists of four individual stands. The north and south stands are identical single-concourse stands, the west stand houses the club accommodation block and main hospitality suites, and the east contains 32 executive boxes. Both west and cast stands have concourses at two levels.

To maintain spectator proximity to the pitch, we have kept the lower seating decks quite shallow (14 seating rows maximum). As a result, the upper tiers are quite steep and are kept close to the pitch.

With safety of paramount importance in stadium design, we planned the escape routes carefully to be as short and direct as possible. All the seating decks are designed to allow a five-minute maximum escape time.

The concourses themselves are segmented into 30m maximum lengths and are planned so that should an incident occur in any one concourse compartment, this can immediately be shut down without compromising the escape times.

Externally, the building is dominated by the main circular structural columns and triangulated tie-bars which support the main cantilever roofs.

The west and east stands, with their double concourses and hospitality and club accommodation areas, extend beyond this main column structure line and are clad simply in profiled-metal and flat-metal cladding panels and masonry blockwork.

We situated the sports centre on the north end of the site, where there was sufficient space to accommodate three floodlit five-a-side pitches, two play areas and 60 dedicated car-parking spaces.

Construction of the new stadium started in May 1992, with a deadline for completion of August 1993. In June 1992, as the pilling rigs were busy on site, the club signed its three-year contract with Ogden Entertainment Services (UK). With this appointment, the whole concept changed from football stadium to multi-use venue.

It became necessary to incorporate a number of fundamental changes into the design whole the building works progressed, within a very tight programme.

These included changes to the stands, which were no longer to he separate buildings but were to be linked by a continuous ground floor concourse.

The turnstiles were relocated from the rear of each stand and grouped in banks of nine in each corner, allowing easy access to the pitch for concerts and other events, while also allowing access to more than one stand if required, and easy segregation. We also increased the toilet facilities (the stadium has the highest toilet-per-capita ratio of any venue in the country) so that they not only cater for the 6: 11 male:female spectator ratio inherent in football, but can also be adapted easily for 1: 1 ratio spectator events.

The number of refreshment bars throughout the concourse was increased and their range upgraded to make an extensive range of fast foods available before, during and after each event.

The hospitality areas were also upgraded. We redesigned the east-stand executive boxes to incorporate individual wc’s. Holding kitchens and food-preparation areas were introduced to provide immediate catering services. In the west stand, the main kitchen was increased in capacity so that it could serve a 400-seater restaurant. 

The hospitality area itself was redesigned to provide maximum flexibility: movable screens allow the space to he opened out or segmented as required, with bars immediately accessible to each area, serving a, diversity of uses from conferences and exhibitions to receptions and restaurants.

We adjusted the pitch and spacing of the north and south stands to accommodate different field events,

 from football - including under-21 and B internationals - to rugby league, American football and hockey.

Because of the restrictions of the site and the need to retain adequate perimeter circulation, allied to obvious financial restrictions, it was not possible to extend the building outwards to house this increased accommodation. Instead, every square metre of available space under the seating decks was used.

This often led to elaborate routing of services, particularly ductwork, in order to maintain usable headroom, and called for dexterity and imagination by consultants and contractors.

Structural engineer's account  BILL REID

Director, Thorburn

The problems were many and varied. With the site enclosed on three sides by railway embankments, access options were limited and it was necessary to construct a new retaining wall along the southern site boundary to create access additional to that available from the existing road system.

Soil conditions underlying Senegal Fields are poor, with a thick layer of peat covering the majority of the area. We considered removing the peat, but rejected this on cost grounds. We left it in place and adjusted the design to accommodate its presence.

This means that all structures are supported on piles, and that drainage, hardstandings and the playing surface have been arranged in recognition of the fact that small seasonal movements of the ground surface will occur.

To obviate potential problems with methane generation within the peat, a venting system was installed under the ground-floor slabs.

The structures are supported by 70-tonne working capacity driven cast in-situ concrete piles founded on the underlying chalk bedrock at an average depth of 19m.

Structural steel frames support composite concrete floor slabs and precast concrete seating deck units. The main columns supporting the roof consist of 762mm diameter concrete-filled steel tubes. Lateral stability to resist both static and dynamic forces comes from steel bracing between the columns in both the longitudinal and lateral directions.

The roof consists of steel trusses fabricated from self-weathering steel. We designed these to give tolerance in erection so that the nose level of the trusses could be adjusted to the achieve consistency, prior to their being locked together with lateral trusses at mid span and at the front.

The roof deck is suspended under the trusses and supported by a structural gutter. We have used this detail, which allows a plane roof soffit, successfully on several projects, as it is easy to build and maintain, and prevents birds roosting under the roof canopy.

The playing surface consists of a highly permeable 4:1 sand/organic soil mixture. Drainage is achieved via porous pipes at 3m centres. Under-soil heating is provided by a piped hot-water system with the 12mm diameter pipes installed at 300mm centres.

The pitch was sown during October 1992 and was used for the first time last month.

Fire engineer's account  IAN SMITH

Director, Fire Safety Engineering Consultants

Using a fire-engineering approach has allowed much of the structural steelwork in the stadium to remain unprotected against fire. Fire-protection materials have only been used in areas defined as high-risk.

We achieved this by demonstrating that an unprotected structure would be acceptable in certain areas provided certain criteria were met.

The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds indicates that stands should be constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations, which list requirements in functional terms. The relevant Approved Documents relate to those regulations concerned with stability and compartmentation:

B3(1) The building shall be designed and constructed so that in the event of fire its stability will be maintained for a reasonable period

B3(3) To inhibit the spread of fire within the building, it shall be sub-divided with fire-resisting construction to an extent appropriate to the size and intended use of the building.

These requirements can be met either by following the guidance of Approved Documents or, as we did, by using another procedure - provided one can demonstrate that it satisfies the criteria.

(Continued Below)

Client's account   DAVID MARKS 

Group financial controller, Millwall Holdings

Our decision to move from the 'Den', home to Millwall Football Club (nicknamed the Lions) for more than 80 years, was based on two criteria - the need to adhere to the Taylor report and create an all-seater stadium which, in terms of size and facilities, would take Millwall into the twenty-first century, and the non-viability (in terms of both construction and finance) of adapting the old ground into an all-seater modern stadium.

In choosing the location of the new ground, we knew that it was essential not to alienate and uproot loyal fans by moving any great distance from the original Den. When the current site, only minutes from the old ground, became available,  it was therefore the ideal and obvious choice for Millwall's new home.

Initially, we were introduced to Ogden Entertainment Services as potential caterers/operators of the food and beverage outlet. Once we realised the extent of Ogdens expertise in stadium-and arena-facilities management - it currently manages more than 100 facilities in the US alone - we tapped into its expertise and involved it in most aspects of the stadium, from design to operation, and in particular in the booking of non-football events. 

We chose the design team for the project because of its experience in stadium design and project management. The Miller Partnership, the architect, and Thorburn, the consulting engineer, have worked on projects that include Ibrox Park, Murrayfield's east stand and Windsor Park, Belfast. 

The brief for the design did change. Initially, we wanted a 25,000 all-seater stadium with one main stand that included a hospitality area. 

Following discussions with the design team, we agreed that the club and spectators would be better served by basing the design on a 20,000 all-seater, with free access from one stand to the next, giving due regard to customer flow. It was also vital that there were sufficient services for customers in terms of toilets, telephones, catering and disabled facilities.

The new ground is within walking distance of the old one.

Operator’s account  JON SINIGAGLIA 

Stadium director, Ogden Entertainment Services 

Once we become involved with a project, we feel it is important to be consulted on design and construction matters such as crowd management, concession control, circulation and general venue operations. It is our experience that a lot of other facilities could have worked much better if they had been laid out differently. from the start. 

At Millwall, we had to ensure that a building primarily used as a football stadium could also function effectively as a 29,000-capacity venue for concerts.

At the north end, designated as the stage end, there are 750 three-phase amps. The sports hall, which has been built as part of the arrangement with Lewisham Leisure Services, will provide space for equipment, production offices, crews an d catering. And one of the three hospitality suites can also be used as an extra changing room. 

Although the stadium does not carry any staging, sound or lighting, we have ensured that there are the basic facilities to make it very quick and easy for concert people to load in and out. Each of the four corners of the venue can allow trucks right into the stadium so we can load right up to the stage position, and outside there is a facility to use segregated parking areas for scaffolding. These areas are accessible from any part of the venue. 

For events like concerts we will have mobile catering and merchandising facilities on the site. A permanent merchandising shop has been built into the front of the stadium so that most people will pass it as they approach the venue.


1. Entrance

2. Concourse

3. Refreshment bar

4. Male lavatory

5. Female lavatory 

6. Switchable lavatory

7. Police

8. Shop

9. Administration

10. Away Dressing Room

11. Home Dressing Room

12. Plant Room

13. Emergency Access

14. Stage Position

15. Mixer Desk

16. First Aid




Fire engineer's account  IAN SMITH

Director, Fire Safety Engineering Consultants 

(Continued from above)

We used the B55950 Code to define the temperatures likely to initiate structural failure, and the inherent fire resistance of the members in the BS 426 Part 20121 test. 

Data from real fire experiments, relating fire-load density, ventilation, limiting temperature and the Hp/A value of the section (where Hp = perimeter exposed to fire attack [m] and A=cross-sectional area [m2] defined a critical value of fire load which could initiate failure in a fully developed fire. 

In areas where the fire-load density was expected to be less than the critical value, the structure was left unprotected - i.e., the main concourse areas, toilets and sealed voids. 

The remaining areas, such as refreshment bars, plant rooms, offices, hospitality areas, and club facilities, were all considered as ‘high-risk’ and were therefore separated from the adjacent ‘low-risk’ areas by fire resisting construction. The steel members in the high-risk areas were protected to satisfy a one-hour standard. 

In carrying out the analysis we had to bear in mind the range of potential uses of the spaces, but nonetheless we were able to achieve considerable cost savings. Only about 40 per cent of the steelwork in the four new stands was fire-protected.

Appraisal by CALLUM MURRAY

Freelance journalist 

There was a time when everyone hated Millwall - and Millwall knew it. 'We are Millwall, we are Millwall, no one likes us, we don't care!', its supporters sang (and still sing) with relish.

A few seasons ago, when Millwall was promoted, briefly, to the then First Division (now Premier League), there was a collective groan from the supporters of other clubs. No one wanted the louts from south-east London playing in the division where the beautiful game was supposed to flourish. No one wanted Millwall's fans rampaging around their stadia, ripping up the seats and urinating wherever they felt like it. 

The club's reputation as the pit bull of English football was bolstered by its ancient, low-lying, corrugated metal stadium situated in a derelict industrial pocket, surrounded by railway arches and scrap yards. Visiting teams were afraid of playing there - and that was how Millwall's supporters liked it.

But what the other First Division teams hadn’t realised was that a revolution was already under way at Millwall. It began with the club winning a series of awards for its community and youth schemes and has culminated in the first all-new, all-seater, major-league stadium to he completed in England since the publication of the Taylor Report on the Hillsborough disaster of 1989. 

Unusually for a football club, Millwall found that Lewisham, the local planning authority, was sympathetic to its aim of moving to a new stadium.

The borough provided the site - Senegal Fields, an under used area of playing fields - and a small grant. In return, the club is providing off street car parking, a sports centre for use by the community and funding for the creation of new public open space.

On the evidence of Millwall first pre-season friendly against Sporting Lisbon, the stadium scores on sight lines and safety, but not on access. Getting to and from the seating decks is no problem, but access to the stadium by car and by public transport remains difficult.

The inaugural match was mainly attended by Millwall's own fans, most of whom live locally. But what will happen when Manchester United comes down to play in a cup match?

As  for the facilities, the stadium coped triumphantly with a near-capacity crowd. The ultimate test of a football stadium's toilets and refreshment outlets comes at half-time. At most stadiums  you are lucky if you get to use one of the two. At Millwall, you could easily use both.

Consequently, the concourses were relatively relaxed places in which to have a beer or a burger. And the crowd's accumulated urine stayed firmly in the urinals, where it belonged. 

What the stadium doesn’t offer, by the architect Nick Parkinson's own admission, is any genuine design innovations - the design is, to use his words, 'tried and tested' . 

Taken singly, any of its elements could be found on other stadia in the country. What is unusual is to find them applied so consistently throughout a

stadium. The result is a building that is robust, efficient and well adapted to its immediate purpose of staging league football.

And the game? Millwall lost 2:1 in a bad tempered affair that included a penalty and much mindless, off-the-ball provocation and retaliation. Amid all the change, its good to see some of the old traditions being maintained.

Cost comment


Associate director, Thorburn

The project was carried out under the fifth edition of the ICE Conditions of Contract, with Thorburn acting as engineer. The civil-engineering method of measurement was used for the principal stadium elements, but for the sports centre and trades work within the stadium the standard method of measurement (SMM7)  for building works was adopted. 

There were a number of abnormal elements involved in the project, principally related to site-specific features. The presence of surface fill material overlying a layer of peat up to 1.5m thick required the adoption of piled foundations, methane protection measures, special bedding and support system for drainage, suspended ground floors and capping layers.

Cost analysis of the New London Stadium: Ł15.5m Total Cost

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