Albert Speer, the architect behind eight of Qatar’s World Cup venues, believes that city centre stadiums can benefit the Gulf state both socially and economically.
He referred to the design by Albert Speer & Partner (AS&P) for Al-Wakrah, which is located in the centre of the city and contains leisure, shopping and social facilities such as playgrounds and swimming pools.
In an interview with Middle East Architect, he said: “Al Wakrah stadium is part of the city centre and this is very feasible, economically. All the car parking spaces for the stadium can be used in the evening, not just once a week.”
He adds that good city stadiums can benefit the community. “In Germany, for a long time people thought that a football stadium has to be far out in the middle of nowhere because of noise and litter. This changed completed.
“It is tied into the stadium design. If it’s more attractive and people can bring their children, if it’s open for women, it’s interesting to stay there because you have restaurants and playgrounds and a place of worship, then people are not just spending one and a half hours there, but five hours.
He cites his company’s Allianz Arena in Munich as a good example of a city centre stadium. “A stadium can be a community meeting point. Our Allianz Arena in Munich is a good example, with all the facilities, restaurants and playgrounds. It’s not only the play itself, it’s the lifestyle.”
When it comes to other successful city stadiums, he points to the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid and London’s new Olympic stadium.
Speer was less positive about China’s Bird’s Nest stadium, built for the 2008 Olympics. He remarked: “The Bird’s Nest is incomparable. The Chinese wanted something spectacular but it is not sustainable. They have used steel to an amount that is incredible. It’s an icon but it’s not used. I heard it is starting to rust.”