Zaha Hadid Architects Al Janoub Stadium Al Wakrah, Qatar

The final of the Amir Cup, the national soccer championship in which the 12 teams of the Qatar Stars league participate, was the event that on May 16, 2019, inaugurated the new sports facility in Al Wakrah: Al Janoub Stadium, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects with Aecom and the first of the new stadiums commissioned for the 22nd edition of the soccer world championship, whose finals will be held in Qatar in 2022.


Al Janoub Stadium is a 40,000-seat facility that will host World Cup matches through to the quarterfinals. As requested by the client, the capacity of the stadium can be reduced to 20,000 seats for the tournaments of the local soccer team, the Al Wakrah Sport Club of the Qatar Stars league. The stadium was built 20 km south of Doha and is connected to the capital of Qatar by the red line of the new metro.


The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar has raised many controversies. From the choice of the country for the harsh climate of the summer months, to the lack of respect for the human rights of migrant workers involved in the construction of sports facilities, the object of specific campaigns by Amnesty International and the attention of major international journalistic investigations, to the broader discourse on the restrictions that women have in Arabic-speaking countries, even if they have more freedom in Qatar.


But at the same time, many see this international event as an opportunity to give the country the impetus to make significant progress in expanding civil rights, especially for women. The difficult climatic conditions with the high temperatures reached during the summer months represented a major challenge for the project. The stadium had to be completely closed in order to air-condition both the playing field and the stands with a seat cooling system.


A system that will be just as useful even with milder temperatures. In 2018, FIFA has decided to move the championship to winter. The roof designed by Schlaich Bergermann Partner is responsible for closing the stadium. The roof is a tensioned structure that covers the entire playing field like a veil, using passive design principles, 3D computer modeling and wind tunnel testing to optimize the efficiency of the envelope and provide maximum comfort for players and spectators.


The shape of the stadium, on the other hand, is a tribute to the history of the coastal city of Al Wakrah. The roof of the structure appears to be composed of the overturned hulls of dhows, the traditional boats of the region, and the facades recall the fold of the sails of these boats. Other motifs related to Arab culture are used for the continuous lower frontage, which is reminiscent of the typical moucharabieh to shade the rooms behind.

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