Qatar just scored a major goal in its quest to deliver the first carbon-neural World Cup. Education City Stadium, a 40,000-seater unveiled in June, is the third and largest of the venues already completed for the 2022 megaevent. It’s also the most sustainable, snagging a rare five-star rating under the Global Sustainability Assessment System.
To align with the Qatar National Vision 2030 calling for sustainable development, the team had to weave eco-friendly strategy into almost every step. It built the stadium into the ground to boost insulation, installed LED lighting systems and opted for water-conserving landscaping. At least 85 percent of the construction materials were regionally sourced and 29 percent of the building materials were recycled.
While all that focus on sustainability might go a long way in settling the score with critics of Qatar’s notoriously immense ecological footprint, it didn’t mean sacrificing eye-catching aesthetics. Created by Fenwick Iribarren Architects and Pattern Design, the stadium puts a modern twist on Islamic architecture of the past. And it’s already known as the “diamond in the desert” for its exterior cladding that forms diamond-like patterns that appear to change color as they reflect sunlight.
In all, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy—the infrastructure mastermind of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022—has invested US$6.5 billion in eight venues and training sites. The event marks the first time the event will be held in the Arab world—and the region’s scorching temperatures almost prevented it from happening. Even after FIFA stepped in and bumped back its typical mid-June start to late November, project leaders had to think creatively. That included architect Mark Fenwick on the Education City Stadium.
“We were one of the first stadiums to really look at cooling,” he said. “One solution is the shape of the stadium, which is the fruit of aerodynamics—it isn’t just nice looking, it also stops wind from getting into the venue. One of the great things about Qatar 2022 is that it’s helping to develop new, innovative systems such as cooling technology.”
The stadium’s eco-friendly legacy will also live on. After the World Cup, the modular upper tier will be removed and 20,000 seats will be donated to developing countries—helping shore up gaps in sporting infrastructure and promote playing football around the world.