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Architecture + Engineering + ART = Design Excellence (Caselet)

Al Wakrah Stadium Design

Executive Summary

Working within a military community amongst senior officers for more than 18-years, exposes you to a practical understanding of the value of making a difference and leaving a mark on the people you work with and the projects being worked on. Initially, this type of engagement can be uncomfortable and sometimes, unwelcomed. And when done well, this infusion of new personalities and experiences can be the building blocks that evolve into high performing project teams and increased design excellence. This concept of integrating the conventional with the unorthodox is what's fascinating about the design of the Qatar Al Wakrah Stadium. The $575 Million stadium is currently under construction and is tracking to be completed in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The engineering and design management for this project was AECOM. The architect and artist selected was Zaha Hadid Architects, with Zaha Hadid herself providing the artistry inspiration for this grandeur design. Like all great works of art, the Al Wakrah Stadium design has stimulated thought provoking discussions ranging from inspiration to curiosity and yes, even disgust. But like all masterpieces, this work of art combined with architecture and engineering originality and expertise, is likely to one day serve as a window to the past representing the rich history of the Qatar region and the transformative policy changes the region has made for women.

Synergy Between the Unconventional Artist and the Conventional Architect and Engineer

The Al Wakrah design was inspired by artistry. The technical solution required to design massive space to sustain a 40,000-visitor capacity was inspired by architectural craftmanship. And one of the most prominent solutions included the configuration of a modular system designed to be dismantled from the building, for donation to various developing countries after the completion of the FIFA Cup games. This recycling solution was inspired by engineers. Although the focal point of the engineer, architect and artist can vary significantly, when integrated together they can form the perfect alliance ideal for creating historical and memorable designs for generations to follow – like the Al Wakrah Stadium.

Example of Dhow Sails

Highlights of Al Wakrah Design Features

One of Qatar’s oldest continuously inhabited areas is Al- Wakrah. It is a historic port with a long history of seafaring trade where Arabian pearl dhow boats were used to transport fruit, fresh water and merchandise along the Gulf coast. Dhow boats included one or more masts set in a triangular shaped form. The shape of the dhow boat’s sails are the inspiration for design of the Al Wakrah Stadium. The roof structure of the stadium imitates the dhow sails traditionally turned upside down to create an impression of cover and shelter. The view from the inside of the stadium was designed to resemble the dhow’s hull.

Since the inception of its design, the stadium has also been described with gender criticism. Although not the intent of the artist, there is irony in this comparison, considering the progressive policies Qatar has taken concerning women in sports. A type of symbol to also celebrate matriarchs. Sports were rarely participated in Qatar by women until the 21st century. Not until the 2012 Summer Olympics, Qatar was one of three countries that never had women competitors at the Olympic games. Bahiya Al-Hamad, one of the four women athletes selected to participate in the Olympics, carried the Qatari flag for the opening ceremony, describing it as a "truly historic moment". Whatever interpretation one may have of this unique work of art, the boldly futuristic shaped stadium mirrors the innovative, ambitious spirit of the Qatar region that will continue to add to the legacy of Qatar’s rich history.

Closing Remarks

When art, architecture and engineering is fused together successfully, a higher-level design vision is created that otherwise could not be achieved separately. Art preserves history, communicates generational identity, is a vehicle to social change and cultural awareness. It is an essential element in the Architecture-Engineering equation to ensure as designers we are creating memorable impressions to display the cultural and historical wealth of the communities we are a part of. From the simplest design to the more complex design requirement, HGD is committed to incorporating artistry early on at the concept stage for each of our projects to ensure both efficient and memorable facilities are provided for our client. To learn more about HGD and the services we provide, see the HGD website.

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