By TBY | Qatar | Jun 15, 2014
In preparation for the bold World Cup 2022 project, Qatar is constructing a series of state-of-the-art arenas.
Qatar’s unrivalled wealth and real GDP growth rate of 12% from 2008-2012, making it the world’s fastest growing economy, has given its authorities free rein to engage in spending on a massive scale. This has been reflected in an array of large-scale projects across the transport and construction sectors, all in anticipation of the forthcoming Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. The government has committed to spending $225 billion to prepare for the prestigious events, with the majority of projects yet to come online. Crucially, the stadiums in which the tournament will take place need to be ready well in advance, but in this regard the authorities seem confident. Cutting-edge sustainability solutions make these projects particularly interesting, and the ventures exhibit the common elements of high cost, scale, and the work of audacious, visionary minds.
NOT JUST STADIA
Transport construction projects such as the now-completed New Doha International Airport can begin to hint at the scope of these auxiliary programs, and the importance of their completion for Qatar. Built on reclaimed land, it has six times as much capacity as the original Doha Airport (DOH), and is scheduled for a delayed opening in mid-2014. It began to process cargo in December 2013, and by 2015 is expected to be able to cater to 2 million tons of cargo and 25 million passengers annually, a figure which set to rise to 50 million by phase two of construction. Other transport projects are not so far gone. These include the Doha, Lusail, and Dukhan Highways, scheduled for 2016 openings, the Sharq Crossing across the bay from the airport to Lusail and the West Bay area in 2020, and the inauguration of the integrated rail network in 2026. The former will comprise the promising Doha Metro and light rail, freight, and passenger services from Messaieed to Ras Laffan and the capital, and an international rail crossing on the much-vaunted Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge, which has yet to be fully confirmed. Each of these will contribute to creating the capacity required for the influx of visitors in 2022.
As of January 2014, no official decision had been made about the timing of the tournament, with speculation still rife as to whether or not the games would take place in winter to avoid the staggering heat of Qatari summers. Nevertheless, organizers are adamant that state-of-the-art cooling technologies will be used to keep the pitches at a reasonable 24°c to 29°c. These impressive design concepts played a role in securing the FIFA bid for Qatar. Innovative use of shade, aerodynamics, and electrical cooling systems will combine to ensure a regulated temperature. This technology could become a central element in the strategic legacy of the games. The application of this technology is not limited to stadiums or sports venues,” enthused Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy. “It can be applied in public spaces, so outdoor life can be enjoyed by countries near the equator all year round, regardless of climate.”
Lusail Iconic Stadium, with a final expected capacity of 86,250, will host the opening and closing games of the tournament. It will also play host to group matches and the quarter and semi-finals. The architectural firm commissioned for the job, Foster + Partners, whose eclectic portfolio includes the Great Court in the British Museum, the Millennium Bridge across the Thames, and a range of unique designs from Astana to New York, has designed a covered stadium surrounded by water and accessed by a series of bridges connected to the forthcoming motorway and metro systems. Over the longer term, post-World Cup Lusail will enjoy a reformatted stadium with space for 20,000 spectators. Another major stadium will be situated in Al Khor in Northern Qatar. Renowned German firm Albert Speer & Partner GmbH realized its 45,330-seat design. It too will have a post-event function, playing a role in Al Khor’s developing coastal leisure and sports infrastructure, and eventually offering 25,500 seats.
Al Rayyan, which takes up more than half of the area of the Qatari peninsula, is home to what will be one of the largest stadiums in Qatar by 2022. It was originally built in 2003, but is due for a temporary increase in capacity for the tournament, boosting available seating from 21,282 to 44,740. Its exterior design will incorporate a colossal screen that will display news and matches. The venue was also designed by Albert Speer & Partner GmbH. Qatar’s oldest and largest stadium, the Khalifa International Stadium, is also due for intense renovations that will increase its capacity by 18,030 to 68,030. It played a central role in the 2006 Asian Games, and is part of Doha’s Aspire Zone, a grouping of sports organizations and facilities at the center of the Qatari sports scene. The arched, partly covered stadium will remain alongside the Hamad Aquatic Zone and the world’s largest indoor dome, Aspire Dome. Several other major stadia, including one in Education City and another at Doha Port, will host approximately 40,000 to 50,000 spectators on average, and should be sufficient for the expected numbers.
Decree No. 3 represents a renewed eagerness to get the building process underway. The Brazil 2014 World Cup will serve as an incentive for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to make significant advances in their strategy, and its senior members will be closely following their Latin counterpart’s progress over the year. As construction begins in earnest, its resulting effects on the broader construction boom will be clear, and the enormous amounts being spent by the government will transform into tangible structures on an equally enormous scale.