infrastructure projects then sometimes projects can
simply be stopped or put on hold,” claims Mehta.
While Qatar and the Arabic states don’t suffer the
uncertainty of political change, in Africa the unstable
governmental hierarchy can be difficult to navigate.
“We have a multi-purpose sports stadium in Lagos
that is on hold because the private real estate
investment company is having difficult securing the
plot of land from the local authorities. It does make
the timescales difficult to assess but it is also what
makes our job exciting,” adds Hupfer.
Preliminary designs for stadium competitions are often
unadulterated expressions of architectural decadence
but they have to be rationalized to be realized,
especially in developing countries.
“Specifying materials has consequences and you
don’t want to build something complex on a remote site
that can’t be serviced or maintained,” explains ME
Engineers’ Jeff Sawarynski.
This concept of consciously building for legacy
is starting to change the way modern stadia are being
designed and delivered in developing countries.
“Twenty years ago, no-one was talking about legacy,
they were just talking about the performance of the
World Cup. Now we need to know how stadia are going
to serve other sports, how they can be downsized and
what happens to them in a post-event era,” says Mehta.
It’s important to design for the legacy of a stadium
so that it doesn’t compromise on the quality of the
users’ gameday experience.
“Architecturally, the biggest challenge is achieving
an aesthetic to the building that integrates with its
location and works at different capacities,” believes
Sawarynski. “With modular demountable elements
and downsizing, it’s important that design decisions
are made to benefit the user and the building in the
long term,” he adds.
Qatar is leading the charge in legacy building with
several new stadia created for the 2022 World Cup
Construction crews work
on stadia in Qatar where
demountable design will see
half of the seating removed and
donated to developing nations
designed to be demountable and adaptable after the
event as part of a wider post-tournament strategy.
Al Thumama Stadium will be reduced from a
40,000-seater to a 20,000-seat mixed sporting facility
that will house a number of amenities including
a boutique hotel and a sports clinic.
Similarly, Al Wakrah Stadium, will have its capacity
reduced from 40,000 to 20,000 when the tournament
has finished. The seats from both venues will be
removed, donated and reconstructed, in coordination
with FIFA, in countries that require assistance in
developing its own sporting infrastructure.
Having demountable sections and reusable elements
is a good approach believes Mehta, although it is
“challenging for a country that doesn’t have the means
for this type of non-profit expenditure”, he explains.
However, while the intention is noble, the reality
of removing complete structural elements in order
to build a smaller stadium somewhere else is also
not wholly practical believes Florian Hupfer.
“For me it’s not real legacy to build a volume to
accommodate 40,000 people and then remove 20,000
seats after you’ve already spent millions. I’m not sure
how it would work with geometries, sight lines and
functionality,” he explains.
One key component to the success of stadia in
the aftermath of global sporting events is the ability
to continue to generate revenue.
Stadia in the UK and US offset the cost of
construction over time by creating an interactive
gameday experience that encourages users to stay
in the venue and spend over a number of hours.
However, the model for many new build venues
in developing countries is different explains Mehta.
“There is a cultural difference in places like Brazil
and Africa, where the majority of sports and spectators
are male. It’s not a family experience and they go
straight home after the game. There needs to be a
cultural shift in the way sporting events are designed
in developing countries so that the stadia are still used
and the legacy of these structures last,” he concludes. n
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