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Fabric Architecture™ secures world first at World Cup

To enhance fan engagement during the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil, the Qatar FIFA Fan Zone in Doha featured a global design first: a striking retractable fabric roofing system by Fabric Architecture™. Set to become an exemplar project for Kinetic Architecture™ in the build-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar, the structure benefitted from the flexibility of a complete, partial or fully open roofing system to create a comfortable interior environment.


Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s fan zone, opened on 28th June, 2014. The structure broadcasted the last 16 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ tournament to crowds of up to 2,000 people on Qatar’s largest LED panoramic screen.


Designing an appropriate roofing solution for the structure meant overcoming a number of challenges. The fan zone required an open-air design, yet had to provide spectators with protection and respite from the high temperatures and it had to be constructed within a short time scale.


As such, the experienced teams of Project Engineers at Arup and Fabric Architecture were appointed to deliver this unique roofing system and Fabric Architecture appointed SCX Special Projects to develop the electrical mechanical interface.


The roof was designed with eight fabric canopies fixed onto 12-metre long tracks and each canopy retracted individually or in tandem; meaning the zone could benefit from a complete or partial open-air structure providing protection when necessary in a comfortable interior environment. The fabric canopy was a low-e fabric, which featured a solar transmission factor of just 4%.


The 12-metre long tracks creating the roof structure sit atop four towers. Air conditioning ducts were installed within these towers and also in several cooling tables located under the stage and the seating around the fan zone. This meant that, although the cooling system itself was discreet, it helped to reduce the zone’s interior temperature by 19 degrees when compared with the external temperature.


Nic Merridew, Programme Management Consultant, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy commented:

Delivering a roofing system that had never been attempted before, and in such a short time frame, was of course a real challenge. Fabric Architecture’s expertise, enthusiasm and experience as well as the company’s collaborative hands-on approach, was absolutely crucial to the project’s success.


Nigel Browne, Design Director at Fabric Architecture, added:

We have worked on a number of kinetic architecture projects and have created beautiful yet practical structures. However, the World Cup fan zone represented a unique set of design, performance and environmental challenges. We are incredibly proud of what has been achieved and we have played an integral role in demonstrating that an open-air arena can be cooled from 45°C to 26°C; in the case of this project it was even surpassed. We fully expect this to become an exemplar project for different open air stadia around the world.