The evolving list of designers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar reads as a who’s who of the architectural profession: Foster + Partners has grabbed top billing with its curvaceous Lusail arena, while Zaha Hadid Architects has been in and out of the headlines with the controversial Al-Wakrah stadium, currently under construction and due for completion by 2018.
Next to reveal their hand is London-based firm Pattern Design, who have just unveiled their design for Al Rayyan Stadium, the fifth stadium proposed for the upcoming tournament. Created in collaboration with AECOM, the stadium will have a capacity of 40,000 during the World Cup, with the ability to be reduced to 21,000 after the tournament for continued use by local organizations.
The stadium’s main feature is an intricately patterned façade, which wraps around the outside of the stadium like a veil that shimmers in the changing daylight. Its design is based on seven decorative motifs taken from vernacular Islamic architecture, which are tessellated to form a screen that evolves in scale and permeability across each elevation.
Architect Dipesh Patel, Founder of Pattern Design, explained that the ornate details of the façade form “a contemporary take on traditional Naquish patterns specific to Qatari culture.” The interlaced envelope is reminiscent of other screen-based architecture in the region, echoing the distinctive bris-soleil of Jean Nouvel’s award-winning Burj Qatar in Doha.
The master-planned surroundings make further reference to Al Rayyan’s desert context, with ancillary pavilions for hospitality resembling sand dunes — a metaphor recently harnessed by numerous architects working in the Middle East; see Zaha Hadid’s otherworldly proposal for the Bee’ah Headquarters in the United Arab Emirates.
Tournament organizers have promoted the proposal’s sustainable credentials, with the design incorporating innovative, energy-efficient cooling technology, renewable energy systems, and the ability for materials from the stadium to be recycled for use throughout the region once the World Cup is over.
If implemented as planned, this final aspect of the proposal makes for a welcome display of forward thinking, in contrast with previous World Cup host nations. Despite the ongoing controversies surrounding the tournament and its associated infrastructure, Pattern Design’s efforts could well culminate in the construction of one of the most successful examples of sporting architecture in the Middle East to date.