The Al Wakrah Stadium, designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, has hosted its first game – the Amir Cup final between Al-Duhail and Al Sadd.

One of eight venues that will host games during the FIFA World Cup 2022, the 40,000-seat stadium was designed by Zaha Hadid before she passed away in 2016. It has been constructed so that it can be used during Qatar’s hot summer months with the inclusion of an retractable roof designed by Schlaich Bergermann Partner and a seating-bowl air conditioning system which will allow football to be played all-year round. The retractable roof has been designed to blend with the cladding, which operate like a traditional Dhow sail when opened.

The Hadid architecture studio designed Al Wakrah Stadium to be unique, and to stand out compared to the numerous so called “generic” venues that are being built around the world. “We always challenge ourselves to do something unique,” Jim Heverin, director at Zaha Hadid Architects told the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. “Football stadiums, in particular, are dictated by regulation these days which means they have become a little bit generic and repetitive.”

The generic stadiums referred to could be partly explained by the fact that people going to watch football at the highest echelons of the pyramid are now demanding a full match day experience compared with previous decades. This means that stadiums now have to have think about accommodating more commercial activity such as merchandising along with food stands and refreshments into their stadiums, with functionality often winning out over aesthetics.

This stadium does not suffer from such issues, as after the world cup the 40,000 seater stadium can be reduced to 20,000, at which point it will serve as the home ground to local side, Al Wakrah Sport Club. These temporary seats have been designed to be demountable and transportable to a developing country in need for sporting infrastructure for post-tournament usage.

The stadium has taken inspiration from its maritime traditions and history of the coastal city of Al Wakrah, by incorporating the traditional dhow boat design, and combining them along with their practical solutions to the climate, context and the spectators the Wolrd Cup will bring, and the functional requirements of a football stadium.

Below the eaves of the roof, a bronze-coloured ornamental screen has been created which shades the stadium’s circulation areas which will prove invaluable in the World Cup.

This stadium is the first purpose-built venue to be built ahead of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022.