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Drop air con plans for Qatar 2022 world cup, says Populous

The architect of Qatar’s Sports City stadium has called on the country’s World Cup organisers to abandon plans to air condition venues

Populous senior principal John Barrow said the company was hoping to persuade Qatar to drop stadium cooling plans, adding that air conditioning was expensive and ‘notoriously unsustainable’, reported Bloomberg.

Speaking at Zurich’s International Football Arena conference yesterday (8 November), he said: ‘The organizers want to have the big showcase stadium with air conditioning but we are fighting hard to persuade them that you don’t need to have it. It’s not good from a long term sustainability point of view.’

During summer months temperatures in the Arabian Peninsula can reach as high as 40° Celsius.

Barrow – who is designing the Sports City stadium in Doha (pictured) – said he was looking at alternative ventilation solutions for the building such as wind towers and traditional methods.

A spokesperson for the event however said there was ‘no plan of scrapping cooling technology whatsoever.’

In December last year, Qatar beat the US in a surprise win to host the once in every four years event. The country pledged to keep stadiums at a steady 26° Celsius and is expected to come under scrutiny over arena temperatures in the run up to the event.

Arup Associates designed an air conditioned 5-a-side football stadium as part of Qatar’s bid to convince FIFA officials that the region’s hot summer weather could be made harmless to the ‘beautiful game’.

In January, Populous revealed concept plans for its 47,500-seat Sports City stadium which included air conditioning and a retractable roof.

Powered by solar energy, the ‘zero-carbon’ stadium was designed to have cool air blown onto spectators at neck and ankle levels.

Qatar’s World Cup bid included 12 stadiums, nine to be built from scratch while the Al Rayyan, Al Gharafa and Khalifa stadiums were to be refurbished.

Foster + Partners was among several of the international practices who designed stadiums for the bid. The studio’s 86,250-spectator Lusail Iconic Stadium scheme in Doha features a water-filled moat with six bridges providing access to a concave-roofed stadium.

Planned venues include Reid Fenwick Associates’ 45,350-seat Education City project and MEIS Architects’ Sports City arena, with capacity for 47,560.

German practice Albert Speer & Partner designed concepts for the Umm Salal Stadium (45,120 capacity), Qatar University Stadium (43,520), Al Shamal Stadium (45,120), Doha Port Stadium (44,950), Al Wakrah Stadium (45,120) and Al Khor Stadium (45,330).

 

Postcript, Qatar 2022 statement

The Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 would like to underline once again that there is no intention to change our plans for air cooling whatsoever. All our commitments that have been made to FIFA that are in the bid book are still going ahead as planned. Moreover, our cooling technologies are not only a matter of the commitments we have made to FIFA; Qatar 2022 is also committed to leave a legacy after the World Cup, allowing future generations to play football all year round in a comfortable environment. These technologies will also be shared with countries with similar climates to Qatar, leaving also a legacy for the world of football as a whole.

 

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