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FIFA 2022, Qatar: Innovative Stadium Design

Posted by
on December 11, 2017 at 04:15 PM

The selection of the hosting country for the supremely popular international games – the football world-cup, or FIFA – has always been closely contested by the countries participating in the bid. What used to be restricted initially to countries in Europe and the two Americas, has slowly spread to other continents, making Qatar the second Asian country to be hosting it in 2022, and also the smallest one so far. Palpable excitement was generated at this selection where, for the first time, the hosts for two games of 2018 (Russia, the largest country to host so far) as well as 2022 were announced together. Qatar has been preparing feverishly to host the first FIFA in the Middle East by developing eight world class venues, of which the unconventional design of the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium announced a few days ago is already wowing the world.

© Courtesy of internet resources

There are two factors which create the context that makes the design of the stadium under discussion attract much surprise and adulation, as has been generated in different sections of the media and the public. The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium designed by Spanish firm Fenwick Irribarren Architects is innovative, sustainable and, most importantly, can be re-configured at a different venue in different shapes, sizes and numbers! Whilst this in itself is an achievement worthy of applause, the larger context makes it even more so.

The first factor that this innovative achievement needs to be seen in the context of is the problem with the legacy of sports facilities. We all know that facilities like stadia and arenas for mega events like World Cup tournaments, Olympics and the like are built at enormous costs, where the host country dedicates a significant amount of state and sponsors’ funds towards developing State-of-the-Art facilities for the sporting events. But, the question of legacy of these facilities still remains unresolved to a great extent despite the best intentions, efforts and plans. After the games and tournaments are over, the respective facilities undergo a significant amount of wear and tear resulting from poor maintenance, abuse and even dis-use, often falling to complete ruin. 

The second important contextual factor follows from the location or venue, the Middle Eastern countries of the Gulf which, ruled by the oil rich elite, has seen a spate of speedy development since a few decades – most of which has been resource intensive, high budget and grandiose. Even the recent attempts in several high profile projects at green practices, sustainable designs and energy conservation pale into insignificance compared to the grandeur of the project as a whole. 

In this design of the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium by Madrid based Fenwick Irribarren, both these issues seem to be getting addressed. The 40,000 seater stadium will be built with re-purposed shipping containers as the basic blocks which will be fitted into a steel framework located on a 4.8 million square foot waterfront site at Doha. A modular system of assembly has been adopted in the design, which will include removable seats, stands, stalls, dressing and washrooms, press rooms, boxes, offices and all the works. 

The entire set up is said to be enabled for quick dissembling once the event is over and, what’s more, it can even be re-assembled at a different venue in the same country or even another country for any other games. The claim of the designers is that the re-assembled stadium can be of a different size, shape or capacity, with the result that two venues can be recreated after dissembling this one. This unique approach doesn’t just attempt to resolve the issue of legacy, but also reduces resource and energy consumption considerably without taking away from the high visibility glamour of the event and its venue.

With New York based Schlaich Bergmann Partners in charge of the structural and civil engineering works, the construction of this stadium has begun, aiming to be completed by 2020. Fenwick Irribarren Architects are also designing another of the FIFA 2022 venues at Qatar, but this Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is marked out for a 4 Star certification by the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). Hassan Al Thawadi, the Secretary General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has dubbed this design the perfect blueprint for sustainable stadium design that can be emulated by future generations of sports facility designers. 

Well, future generations of designers are surely watching and waiting for the magic to unfold in 2022. If we can successfully have temporary structures for sports arenas that can be rotated and re-used, re-fitted and re-configured to get total value for money invested, why not?!

Designer : Fenwick Irribarren Architects
Photography :internet resources

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