CHALLENGE. King Abdullah’s overall aspiration for his sports city was to improve sport and the health of his citizens within the kingdom. The project had multiple elements – a 100,000 seat stadium, an arena, aquatic center, multi-sport complex, golf complex and a women’s sport facility among others. These had to be connected to, and supported by, housing, schools, a mosque, hospital, advanced performance institutes and an energy center. The challenge was to create a cohesive and integrated master plan that balanced the need for privacy with inclusivity and connectivity.
INNOVATION. Our unique approach to this scheme took, as its starting point, an understanding of human behavior. How would the diverse groups work, play and live within the city? By addressing the need for the whole development and its constituent facilities to function on both a personal and public level, we were able to balance the needs of individual versus team and spectator versus performer. The polycentric model at the heart of the plan, with its elasticity of planning, epitomizes this fluidity.
IMPACT. It’s the landscape that makes this development unique, linking the facilities together and creating a common identity for the whole vision of the site. The natural patterns of the wadi are reinterpreted to define zones of development, both for the present and to create a road map for future evolution. In the main stadium, a unique design of ‘petals’ shelters the body of the building and the surrounding external spaces, keeping spectators comfortable.