In what began as a vision in its bid to FIFA to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar’s promise of new cooling technologies, carbon-neutral facilities and man-made clouds is slowly becoming reality.
Last summer, the Showcase (pictured below) was built to show to FIFA and the rest of the world that the warm climate of Qatar, where summer temperatures soar over 40 C (104 F), is no longer a barrier to hosting global events. Shortly thereafter, FIFA awarded the tiny desert state with the 2022 bid.
While speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA) earlier this month, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi said they are now looking to complete the first stadium with cooling system technology by 2015.
The design could prove a template for all future sports grounds built in the hotter countries of the world. Here is a brief summary of the various technologies being reported.
According to CNN, solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic panels on the outside the stadiums and on their roofs will harness energy from the blazing Qatari sun. It will be used to chill water, which in turn will cool air before it is blown through the stadium, keeping pitch temps below 27 C (80 F).
Qatar 2022′s bid book director Yasir Al Jamal said it would be the first time these technologies have been combined to keep a stadium cool.
“Stadium seats will be cooled using air pumped at the spectator ankle zone at a temperature of 18 C,” he said.
“The same air will also be projected from the back and neck area of the seats, ensuring that each seating row of each stadium provides maximum comfort and enjoyment to fans,” he continued.
Zero Carbon Footprint
According to Michael Beaven from Arup Associates, the venues’ solar panels operate year-round, continuously exporting electricity to the national grid. On a match day, the higher electrical demand will bring electricity back into the facility from the national grid. This electricity, together with generators using biofuels, provide power for both technical and general power, so the events are assured power during the World Cup.
The amount of electricity generated in this way from the sun exceeds the amount of electricity imported for events over the year, making facilities zero carbon.
Revolving Canopy Roof
Beaven also described how the rhythmic geometry of the Showcase’s canopy roof played an important part in the sustainability strategy of the stadium. It moves to provide cooling shade within the building and insulate against the hot sun in summer. It is the first roof of its type and is already considered a pioneering move towards a more environmentally responsible approach to stadium architecture. In addition to protection from sunlight, the canopy can be positioned to protect from wind during match times and let spectators and players take advantage of natural ventilation when the weather is suitable.
Stadium architects have unveiled detailed plans that will allow organizers to remove as many as 170,000 seats — including one entire stadium — from nine of the venues and send them to 22 locations in the developing world. At a stadium conference in Doha this week, they said the initiative was aimed at insuring the World Cup would leave a lasting legacy.
Qatar’s approach also was inspired by the mistakes of past World Cups and Olympics, with several architects complimenting their presentations with photos of stadiums like those from the 2004 Athens Olympics which largely have gone unused or the Bird’s Nest in Beijing which is now little more than a tourist attraction.
A team of engineering scientists from Qatar University (QU) have taken a more high-tech approach to solving the heat problem – they’ve reportedly developed a type of artificial “cloud” designed to float above the World Cup venues and provide fans and players with relief from the blazing sun.
The artificial clouds system was invented by a team led by Dr Saul Abdul Ghani, Head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at QU, who told Gulf News that the “clouds” would be made from a lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas. The “cloud” would also feature solar panels on its upper surface to power engines that allow the cloud to be moved via remote control.The system would initially cost around US$500,000, with prices coming down with commercial scale production. However, it’s unclear whether the clouds will actually be built.