My favourite building: Hazza Bin Zayed stadium

WSP's head of structures Bart Leclercq on why he admires the stadium

ANALYSIS, Projects

Despite the plethora of unusual buildings in the United Arab Emirates, Bart Leclercq said the new Hazza bin Zayed Stadium was an easy choice for his favourite building.

“This elegant structure is my favourite building for many reasons, but especially because of its elegant form and clever, functional design. I am captivated by the architect’s use of Al Ain’s rich culture and heritage as their inspiration for this stadium; Pattern have cleverly used the city’s history as an oasis and date plantation to influence their design.

“One of the building’s most striking features is its outer façade, which is inspired by the unique diamond pattern of the Palm Tree. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of its deep-rooted inspiration and futuristic appearance of the façade. The visual impact of the façade has been enhanced by its functionality, as it utilises passive cooling by shading the building and allowing air to flow throughout.

“The outline of the roof is sophisticated and fluid, and that the design references the Arabic head -dress highlights the importance of taking cognisance of local culture. Structurally, the roof is appealing to me because it is supported by the structure it sits on, eliminating the need for columns which would obstruct spectators’ views of the action. Despite being constructed of steel, the asymmetric roof reminds me of fabric and imparts a sense of light and air. It also enriches the environment of the stadium below by ensuring that shading for spectators and TV cameras is optimised for match times.

“I am also struck by the intimacy that the design has imparted. Despite seating 25,000, the arrangement of the seating creates an atmosphere that is much more personal, and allows spectators to get closer to the action. This has been achieved by the adaptation of a design that is more commonly used in larger stadiums; using a three-tier design which improves views of the pitch.

Bart Leclercq, Head of structures design, WSP Middle East

Bart Leclercq is head of structures design at WSP Middle East – a position he has held since 2011. He progressed to this role following a series of internal promotions, having joined WSP in May 2005.

Prior to that, Leclercq held positions working for Jacobs Engineering and Arup.

He has a broad range of experience of working on major projects in the Middle East and was the structural lead engineer for the City of Arabia project.

More recently, he has advised on projects including the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Aquaventure Park at Atlantis and the Royal Mirage hotel (both on Palm Jumeirah). He also worked on the Fairmont and Kempinski Hotels at The Wave, Muscat. In Abu Dhabi, he advised on the new Zayed National Museum.

Leclercq studied at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands and is a specialist in the structural design of big buildings.

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