Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Then and Now: Qatar Edition

FIFA's inspection team will be shown a prototype climate-controlled stadium on Tuesday during the first stop on a three-day visit to evaluate Qatar's chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup.
The team, making their ninth and last visit to bidding countries, will consider the possibility of bringing the finals to the Middle East for the first time.

Bid chairman Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, said in an opening address . . .

"We have been honest about our cooling technology system. It is now zero carbon and we have already proved the technology does work and we can cool stadiums and we are now proving we can do it in an environmentally friendly way."

Sheikh Mohammed said the hot weather was a challenge Qatar had to overcome.

"We will tackle it head on, our technology works and will be very successful," he added.

Doha already has six state-of-the-art stadiums and more would be built in time for the finals.

The prototype stadium the delegates from FIFA, football's governing body, were being shown on Tuesday has a zero carbon footprint and will be the system used at every venue.
After all the talk of using state-of-the-art air conditioning to cool stadiums at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the architect in charge of one of the venues reversed course and claimed Tuesday that a more old-fashioned solution would be cheaper and better.

Leading firm Populous, which is designing the Sports City stadium in Doha, is trying to persuade Qatari organizers to scrap plans to have air conditioning at the venue.

Populous director John Barrow said the system is too expensive and “notoriously unsustainable” for the environment when used on a large scale. Barrow, whose firm helped draw up the prototype of an air-conditioned stadium, now believes the planned 47,000-seat Sports City arena can be kept cool by shading seats and using traditional Arabic methods for ventilation.

“I think you can be more clever. It is about air movement, moisture in the air and it is about temperature at the right time of day,” Barrow told delegates at the International Football Arena conference. “If we get it right … that is the way ahead.”

The concept of air-conditioned stadiums to beat the 122-degree desert heat in June was a defining theme of Qatar’s winning bid last year.

Qatar hired Populous to help its campaign, drawing on the firm’s experience in building signature projects such as the new Yankee Stadium, London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium and Arsenal’s Emirates arena.

The firm built a small prototype of an air-conditioned stadium in Doha to help persuade a FIFA inspection team that the tiny nation’s ambitious World Cup project could succeed.

“We are doing away with all the air-conditioning kit that is going to cost a fortune to run,” Barrow said.

Instead, he is proposing wind towers that suck up hot air to create fan-like air movement inside the stadium.

“It is part of the building tradition in the Gulf to create wind towers, which naturally ventilate. If you have got an air movement, which keeps you cool like a fan, that makes all the difference.”

Qatar promised FIFA that its 12 World Cup stadiums could be regulated at around 79 degrees. Now, Barrow says spectators could be sitting in 86-degree temperatures during evening matches.

“Fan expectation needs to be a little more relaxed,” he said on the conference sideline.


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