News stories - road to 2022


The five stages in the stadium design process

It was back in 2013 when the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) commissioned the design of Al Wakrah Stadium, one of the proposed host venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. Aecom and Zaha Hadid Architects took up this task, with the latter leading the design endeavours.

 The five stages in the stadium design process

The entire design process, from start to finish, can take from 14 to 20 months and includes a large team from a cross-section of specialities as well as collaboration with local governmental agencies. The SC has initiated work on eight proposed stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. The design has started on seven of the proposed host venues, with the Al Wakrah Stadium currently in the Issue for Construction stage. 

Jim Heverin, director at Zaha Hadid Architects, with experience in sports venues, including the design of the Aquatics Centre for the London Olympics in 2012, was at the helm of the team of designers, engineers and architects that delivered the design that is now taking shape in Al Wakrah, recently surpassing the great milestone of the first concrete pouring, and getting one step closer to vertical construction.

As Al Wakrah is renowned for its heritage as a fishing town, the inspiration for the stadium design, future home of the Al Wakrah Sports Club, was quickly linked to the dhow: Iconic representation of Qatar's fishing tradition. With the dhow boat as a starting point, the team came up with three proposals. 

In a phone interview with, Heverin explained: "The first step is the analytical work, checking the brief and looking at the criteria. We had different things to look at, as the stadium is the centre-piece of an overall precinct. Our work wasn't only looking at the stadium design; it was looking at the city precinct which included also other sports facilities which had to work after the tournament."

"The dhow boat had particular relevance to Al Wakrah because it's a port and a fishing village so we thought this was a very good starting point which could link the project to the location. We put together three proposals around the same type of idea. All of them of course had a football pitch with permanent seating capacity of 20,000 which can be expanded to 40,000 in tournament mode," he clarified.

The design team also wanted to reflect the culture and traditions of Al Wakrah in the materials used in the stadium. To do this they came up with an idea that was seen as a win-win: the use of timber. He said: "When people see the structure of the stadium they immediately associate it with a boat. It was very important in terms of anchoring the project to the local culture while also contributing to the reduction of the carbon footprint." 

The team was also aware of the materials in relation to the specific conditions given in Qatar which mainly have to do with solar exposure, sandstorms and wind: "We needed to create a robust and durable shell. This created an opportunity to use timber in keeping with our design principles. We created a building with shades, natural cooling, with comfort conditions for the players on the pitch and spectators and their seats." 

For a stadium to be appropriate to host a FIFA World Cup it has to comply with a number of requirements such as the right temperature for players, the right pitch in terms of surface, suitable facilities for officials, media, spectators and VIPs, among others. Heverin added: "These types of venues have different users, all with different needs." 

Heverin himself is also a football fan and is keen to see his country back at the World Cup. He told "I am Irish so I don't get to see them in the World Cup very often. I am always going for a repeat of Italia 90 when we made it to the quarter finals. Maybe by 2022 we have another golden generation of footballers. Regardless, I always enjoy the World Cup. It's a truly competitive tournament with surprises."

Ultimately the design process is broken up into five stages, each with a number of steps that need to be completed before moving on to the next stage. The design stages that all SC stadiums will go through are the following:

1.       Pre Concept

 The five stages in the stadium design process

  ·    Data collection stage which includes compiling surveys of the site, conditions of the

  ground and getting confirmation for the assigned land

 ·    Confirmation of project brief requirements

 ·    Takes up to two months to complete

2.       Concept

 The five stages in the stadium design process

·    Initial architectural proposals
·    Developing  details of the design to determine what goes into the stadium, such as                   the materials, the room types, ceiling height, stairs and elevators 
·    Takes up to four months to complete

3.       Schematic Design

 The five stages in the stadium design process

·    Engineering is determined and resolved
·    Structure is reviewed, initial calculations are made and system integration will be       
               looked at
         ·    Design criteria are tested using computer software for elements such as mechanical 
              systems design and crowd modelling
·    Takes up to four months and the design should be 40% complete by the end of this 

4.       Design Development

 The five stages in the stadium design process

          ·    All detailed calculations are completed; all equipment is selected, including lights,                cooling units, fans, sanitary ware and even kitchen equipment.
          ·    Approximately 24 specialists such as interior designers, kitchen operators, fire 
               engineers, ICT specialists and broadcast specialists, provide input to ensure that 
               we have a stadium suitable for a FIFA World Cup™
          ·    The SC also works closely with local agencies to ensure local codes and standards 
               are incorporated and enforced
          ·    Takes between four to six months to complete

5.       Issue for Construction

 The five stages in the stadium design process

 ·    Ensures that the specification of all materials, equipment and finishes have been                determined so that the Main Contractor can commence on site         
·    There are now approximately 6,500-8,000 detailed drawings completed         
·    The duration of this stage varies depending on whether the drawings will be released in one package or divided up into several packages in order to better distribute construction works.

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