Permavoid plays base on world hockey stage

Tuesday 18th June 2019
England Hockey pitch on Permavoid

  • Polypipe partners England and GB Hockey in developing innovative portable pitch system.
  • Pitch to be unveiled at the FIH Pro League event at the Twickenham Stoop.


A breakthrough portable pitch system developed specifically to International Hockey Federation (FIH) standards will see its first use at the FIH Pro League matches between Great Britain and New Zealand at the Twickenham Stoop stadium on the 23rd June. As the result of a partnership between England Hockey and Polypipe, the pitch exploits the water management specialist’s unique Permavoid geocellular sub-base to create a stable, high-quality playing surface that can be quickly and cost-effectively re-created on any scale, in any location and on any existing surface.


“Our ambition is to take hockey, one of the world’s fastest growing participation sports, into urban environments where access to traditional sports grounds is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Jonathan Cockcroft, Commercial Director at England Hockey.  “Polypipe’s Permavoid, which is already proven in a host of world-class sporting arenas including the Olympics and Premier League football, provides us with the perfect versatile platform to achieve this as it can be adapted to accommodate and maintain any synthetic or natural playing surface in either a temporary or permanent setting. The opportunity to deliver ‘Big Stadium Hockey’ is now achievable on a regular and repeatable basis which is great news for our growing fan base.”


At the Stoop, the 15,000-seat home of Harlequins Rugby, 24,000 interconnected 85mm deep Permavoid units cover the 6000 sqm playing surface.  Laid on a permeable geotextile, the units – which are manufactured from 100% recycled polypropylene - are topped with a flexible shock pad tuned to maintain the level integrity of the finished surface. 


The distinctive blue ‘carpet’ that tops the composite structure is unique to hockey – its nap controlling ball rolling speed and pass accuracy.  To do this consistently the carpet needs to hold a prescribed moisture level which is achieved by regular watering.  Permavoid’s open cell structure provides a temporary attenuation volume to receive any excess water from the surface, eliminating the risk of any surface water ponding, while allowing it to infiltrate to ground at the sub-soil’s natural rate.


“Satisfying the performance requirements of the FIH has been a significant technical challenge,” says Sean Robinson, Business Development Director, Specification, at Polypipe.  “In collaboration with England Hockey, sports turf consultants, STRI Group, and Polytan, developers of the synthetic carpet, we engaged in a number of lengthy trials to prove the concept and demonstrate that we could not only achieve the structural stability of the pitch to within FIH tolerances, but also regulate moisture levels at the prescribed limit.”


The entire pitch has taken the installation team two weeks to complete.  After the FIH matches, every element used in its construction will be re-used, clearly showing the versatility and environmental compatibility of the system.  “Architects and developers looking to create attractive, value-added urban spaces can utilise this pitch concept to promote a range of sports, providing easy access and encouraging participation with the associated health and wellbeing benefits,” says Sean Robinson.  “For stadium owners, it offers great potential to turn their venues into truly multi-functional arenas, significantly increasing opportunities for revenue generation”.


In a permanent setting, Permavoid can form part of an integrated water management solution, providing attenuation on roofs, podiums and shallow depth areas that may not be suited to traditional surface water storage systems – contaminated land for example.  Both teams that played in this year’s Champions League final have utilised Permavoid as a central element in their home pitch and stadium water management, using surface water collected from across their sites to irrigate and maintain an optimum playing surface.


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