The award-winning FIFA Fan Zone, constructed in Doha, Qatar for the 2014 Brazil World Cup, featured a commanding fabric retractable roof system designed, engineered and constructed by Fabric Architecture, now an exemplar project for Kinetic Architecture.
Holding crowds of up to 2,000 people at a time, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s purpose-built fan zone showed the last 16 matches of the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil – on one of the world’s largest panoramic screens.
The vision was to create the feel of an open-air stadium which could be adapted into a multi-functional event space. With outside temperatures reaching up to 45°C, the design had to respond to local climate challenges and ensure the comfort of spectators at all times.
A large-scale retractable roof system with integrated climate control.
Due to the company’s innovative design philosophies and engineering expertise, Fabric Architecture was appointed by the Supreme Committee to work alongside project engineers at Arup, with SCX Special Projects developing the electrical mechanical interface for Fabric Architecture.
Construction: the roof was a simplistic and dynamic design constructed of 8 “low-e” fabric canopies (a solar transmission factor of 4%) fixed to 12 metre long tracks, integrated into a low-profile upper framework. The framework was positioned onto 4 towers each hosting air conditioning ducts, along with several cooling tables located under the stage and throughout the seating area.
Fabric Architecture was initially approached in November 2013 and the solution needed to be designed, manufactured and shipped to Qatar in February 2014. Fabric Architecture and Arup’s integrated approach was key to meeting this time frame. The roof was part manufactured off-site, then transported to site for final assembly in mid-May.
At 4am on 13th May, the roof, weighing 112 tonnes was dramatically lifted onto its four columns in a precisely synchronised operation using four 250 tonne cranes.
Impact: this intelligent design featured canopies which could be retracted individually or in tandem. The space could respond to the external environment, closing off the heat of the day or opening up to invite in the cooler evening temperatures and starry night sky.
The zone was fully monitored throughout its use so if temperatures were to rise, the roof could be partially or fully closed, taking just 4 minutes to retract entirely. The retractable system, working in conjunction with the cooling towers and tables, resulted in the zones interior being up to 19 degrees lower than the outside temperature even when the roof was fully retracted.
The successful collaboration between Fabric Architecture and Arup resulted in a new type of construction, designed to a human scale, opening at will to the elements while providing a cool and comfortable environment. An open air arena that can be cooled from 45C to 26C successfully is now a reality.