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Home / Al Bayt stadium: the tent in the heart of Doha

Al Bayt stadium: the tent in the heart of Doha

by Kim Kemp on Mar 5, 2017


Looking into the stadium bowl from the West Bridge vantage point of Al Bayt stadium.
Looking into the stadium bowl from the West Bridge vantage point of Al Bayt stadium.

Due to rise from the Al Khor skyline is a Bedouin-inspired structure, the likes of which has never been seen.

Al Bayt is one of the eight venues for the FIFA World Cup, a legacy project located north of Doha, within Al Khor and will host matches right through to the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finals. A joint venture involving Galfar Al Misnad, Salini Impregilo Group and Cimolai, won a QAR3.2billion (approx. $879mn) contract last July to lead the main construction of the stadium and the adjacent energy centre. Built to a capacity of 60,000 seats, the stadium has an area of 200,000m² and will be positioned at the centre of a 1-million square metre complex that will also include a hospital, a mall and a park.

“The Al Bayt precinct has been integrated with the Al Khor community, with a sports city right next to Al Khor,” David Muirhead, project manager for KEO informs and adds, “We are working closely with the community to identify what sporting activities would be popular, as this is part of the legacy aspect once the tournament has passed.” He continues: “There are two main buildings in the stadium precinct namely, the stadium and the energy centre. The latter includes all of the waste water and water treatment, the cooling towers for the air conditioning units, as well as the electrical sub-stations. The stadium is targeting a sustainability goal of Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) 4-stars and is being designed to meet both international and FIFA’s planning and regulatory standards,” Muirhead adds.

In the precinct itself, there will be a number of water features, including lakes, fountains and rivers. Parks and greenery will form an integral part of the surrounding precinct’s design plan, creating a green lung for Al Khor and providing local families with outdoor space for leisure activities.

The stadium takes its name from bayt al sha’ar – tents traditionally used by nomadic peoples in Qatar and the Gulf region. The stadium will therefore possibly be the largest Bedouin tent in the world as over the skeletal steel structure, a massive tent will be erected and ‘draped’.

Inside, another membrane will reflect the red and black colours of a majlis, inviting people into a world of hospitality, which is part of the design’s intent.

While there are numerous technical aspects to creating this giant structure, an interesting engineering feat will be the retractable roof that can close completely within 20 minutes.

The retractable roof will allow for sunlight to be moderated, affording the home-grown turf to be exposed to natural daylight.

Once drawn completely closed, the interior can be air conditioned, modifying the temperature for both the spectators and the players so events can be scheduled year-round despite the region’s extreme climate.

Muirhead continues: “The stadium will have three levels of coloured seating, with two tiers comprising pre-cast concrete and a third, top section of seating constructed from structural steel. The top tier will be a removable module to be detached after the event and donated to disadvantaged countries in the Third World, while the remaining two tiers will remain in place.” This will reduce the size of the stadium to a more manageable and practical seating arrangement of nearly 32,000 seats; ideal for legacy use.

Local contractors Bin Omran Trading & Contracting and Al Sulaiteen Agricultural & Industrial Complex are working on the precinct infrastructure and landscape, respectively.

Construction to date

Muirhead describes the current status of the site: “The first two levels of the stadium are concrete pre-cast to expedite the building time, with the result that almost 40 percent of the structural work is completed.” Looking around the site he continues: “We are beginning the first section of structural steel with the bleachers in the second tier in place. Work has just started on the upper tier which is the structural steel level of bleachers, the removable section.” He explains that the superstructure is being built in complete segments, moving in a clockwise direction, not per layer, which “expedites the critical path” he assures.

“When we first started the vertical works, we knew that the retaining wall was the most critical issue to get done,” and he uses an analogy: “The retaining wall is similar to the 15th Century cathedral; it’s like a buttress. You have to build the strong retaining wall in order to put the second level on top – once the slab has been placed – and then the larger, 21-metre support columns can be positioned. Once those are in place, work can begin on the upper tier steel.”

Also completed is the structure of one of the two team tunnels, with the other one in progress.

Sustainability

Incorporating best energy usage practices and green building materials into its venues is key to hosting the most environmentally friendly FIFA World Cup ever so, while striking, the tent design is also practical. The shade provided by the tent structure will complement the stadium’s cooling technologies, helping to retain a comfortable inside temperature without the need for extra power.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) is working towards GSAS certifications and, not only will reducing the capacity of the arena to nearly 32,000 be more suitable for post-FIFA World Cup events, but it will also create space for facilities that will attract local visitors and tourists alike. Once the tournament is over, the upper concourse of the stadium will be converted into a hotel and a shopping centre will also be integrated into the structure.

Of all the stadia being constructed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it is the Al Bayt that best reflects the regional culture and will be a welcome addition to the Al Khor community once the precinct is completed.



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