Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.


ZHA completes 40,000-seater stadium in Qatar for 2022 World Cup

  • Comment

The Al Janoub stadium in Al Wakrah was jointly designed with AECOM, and will host the quarter-final matches of the tournament

The football stadium, 275m by 225m in size, is designed to reduce to a 20,000-seat capacity in legacy mode. The temporary seats are demountable and intended to be transported to countries in need of sporting infrastructure post-tournament.

The stadium’s operable roof is 50m above the playing surface, and together with the cladding has been designed using pleated PVC Titanium O2 double-coated membrane and cables by Schlaich Bergermann Partner. This roof and a seating-bowl cooling system were designed in tandem to ensure the stadium can be used during Qatar’s summer months. When deployed, the roof is intended to operate like a sail, closing via the cables in 30 minutes over the oculus above the field of play, creating a sheltered environment for football.

01 zha al wakrah stadium qatar ©hufton+crow

01 zha al wakrah stadium qatar ©hufton+crow

The sinuously curved elements of the design are intended to reflect the maritime traditions of the coastal city location by referencing the hulls of the traditional boat of the region, the dhow – although these drew comment for more anatomical and less nautical echoes when first revealed. Subsequently, the project was embroiled in allegations over construction worker deaths that Zaha Hadid refuted and which the BBC apologised over, as well as questions over delivery and the World Cup’s viability given Qatar’s diplomatic crisis with its neighbours. 

The stadium, which was inaugurated on 16 May by hosting the Amir Cup Final of the Qatar Stars national football league, is part of a wider Al Wakrah City precinct. This includes a school, marketplace, cycling and running tracks, multipurpose indoor arena, mosque and wedding hall, as well as a 90,000m² park. 

18 zha al wakrah stadium qatar ©hufton+crow

18 zha al wakrah stadium qatar ©hufton+crow

Architect’s view

The stadium’s roof design is an abstraction of the hulls of dhows turned upside down and huddled together to provide shade and shelter. This is expressed in the stadium’s envelope geometry, details and selected materiality, including the roof’s beam structure that echoes the interior structure of a hull.

The facades are slanted outwards, tapered in elevation and reminiscent of the pleating of a dhow’s sails. The nautical references are further emphasised through the large overhang of the stadium’s eaves that incorporates strips of metal cladding reminiscent of the timber structures used in a dhow.

The stadium’s opaque roof and wall areas are expressed as pleated cross-sections. This feature, which has its origins in Arabic motifs and calligraphy, adds texture to the outer shell and also emphasises the stadium’s unique geometry. The external cladding materials are deliberately selected from a limited palette and choice of colours; namely white for the roof and wall cladding, and darker colours for the areas below the eaves, including the lower-level curtain walling with its ornamental lattice screen print that provides shading.

Zha al wakrah main concourse level tournament mode

Zha al wakrah main concourse level tournament mode

The colour scheme for the external building envelope dovetails with its geometric forms and reinforces the articulation of the outer skin. The roof cladding and opaque surface areas above the eaves are white or off-white with a gloss surface finish that is reminiscent of sea shells and emphasises the pleats which add texture to the building envelope. The embossed eaves and the lattice screen print of the glazed lower-level facades are metallic bronze, adding a sense of richness and depth to the design. The choice of a bronze metallic finish of these worked surfaces pays homage to the traditions and artistry of Islamic craftsmanship.

The stadium sits on a large landscaped podium that takes visitors from grade to the entry-level main concourse located at the middle of the seating bowl’s tiers. This podium connects the stadium into the adjacent landscape and reduces its scale. Large parabolic voids within the podium signify different activity zones. On the eastern side, voids allow for the majority of spectators to arrive and depart from the stadium. The north-eastern void will include a community market while the south-eastern void hosts an activity park. To the west, the parabolic void within the podium allows for vehicle access and drop off at grade for the players, officials and dignitaries.


Project data

Start on site May 2014
Completion May 2019
Gross site area 585,000m² (Al Wakrah city precinct including Al Janoub stadium)
Architect Zaha Hadid Architects
Lead consultant AECOM
Client Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar   
Operable roof design Schlaich Bergermann Partner
Cooling consultant Dr Saud Abdul-Ghani, College of Engineering, Qatar University
Structural steel SOLB26 (Qatar)
Aluminium façade and roof panels Qatar National Aluminium Panel Company
Seating Coastal Qatar
Turf Urban Concept (Qatar)
Project manager KEO
Main contractor Joint venture between MIDMAC (Qatar), PORR (Qatar) and Sixco (Belgium) 

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more