A heated discussion on the challenges of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums took place during yesterday’s Construction Week Qatar conference in Doha.
‘Building Towards 2022’, held in the Grand Hyatt Doha, featured a panel discussion on architectural challenges involved in hosting the event, including the use of cooling technology and retractable roofs to deal with the scorching summer heat.
Ivar Krasinski, design director for STR-Edge, asserted that the technologies are well within Qatar’s capabilities.
“Retractable roofs have been around for decades. We have already seen sustainable cooling technologies – that’s coming from engineers. These are not rocket science technologies – Qatar is more than qualified to deliver them. I’m confident it can pull it off.”
Yet Phil Dalglish, regional director for Buro Happold, remarked that a test stadium is required. “It is critical that a prototype has to be established somewhere along the line.”
Dalglish added that cost is a major consideration. “It’s easy to fall into the illusion that money is not a problem in Qatar. For this World Cup to be successful, we can’t have the problems that we have seen in many other countries where cost overruns are seen as quite normal for this sort of development.”
“On the basis of revenue expansion, the cost of the stadiums has to be very carefully controlled.”
Sound planning is the key to avoiding overspend according to Krasinki. “If you plan ahead of time then overspending does not need to take place. This is only an issue if critical decisions are not made in a timely fashion. With the 10 years we have left, I think it’s possible to overcome this problem.”
He added that efficiently designed stadiums are now the order of the day. “In the past it was considered a mark of honour to build more in terms of structure. The Bird’s Nest in Beijing is a colossal structure but look at all that steel.
“Now no architect is going to suggest that in today’s environment. It’s about doing less and going back to the roots of design by designing efficiently,” he said.
Another panelist, Tariq El Hefny, project director of Khalifa Stadium Development called for new stadiums to be more interactive with the surroundings.
Dalglish concluded that user experience is more important than the stadiums themselves. “With the exception of the Bird’s Nest, no one remembers the stadiums from past events. It is the experience that is going to make this World Cup great.
“One of the reasons the Millennium Dome in London got such a bad name was because people had to queue outside in cold weather. The key is ensuring that the attendees and athletes get the right experience.”