Atmosphere at the Heart of Design for World Cup Stadium

October 26, 2022

Populous has completed its work on the Lusail Stadium in Qatar which is set to take centre stage at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, hosting ten games including the final on 18th December.

Working closely with Foster + Partners as the stadium design architect and Arup as the stadium engineers, Populous carried out the role of the sports architect for the 80,000 seat Lusail Stadium in Lusail City, 15km north of Doha.

As part of the team that delivered the stadium, which has the largest capacity of all the tournament’s eight venues, Populous focussed on the design of the seating bowl and associated facilities and amenities. Using its extensive design and technical expertise, and experience of delivering similar large scale and complex stadia, the design team set out to create a world-class match day experience, generating a memorable atmosphere that can be enjoyed not just by the 80,000 spectators in the stadium, but also global television viewers.

In line with the team’s overriding ambition to generate the best atmosphere for spectators attending events, the seating bowl was designed as a ‘radial’ single saddle bowl, consisting of three distinct continuous tiers, which when occupied create an experience that is connected and compact around the field of play. The seating positions as many spectators as close to the pitch as possible to encourage a heightened atmosphere and the most intimate and immersive experience for spectators as possible.

Each of the three tiers is effectively divided in two: The lower GA tier has an upper and lower section, the Mid-tier consists of the hospitality and box tier, with the VVIP/VIP section sitting within this tier in the west stand, and the GA Upper tier has a lower and upper section, the upper section being on the east and west ‘stands’ only.

The sports architecture brief required VIP sections for 300 VVIP seats and 1,700 VIP seats, and a large media area located in the upper west GA tier. Populous was also responsible for making sure the stadium was FIFA compliant, covering everything from FIFA pitch edge electronic perimeter boards requirements, FIFA Camera positions, media presentation platforms to players/officials benches requirements.

As well as the seating bowl, VIP areas and players’ changing rooms, Populous has also played a key role in how the stadium functions using its team’s extensive stadium experience to develop a highly legible wayfinding strategy. This will ensure that this highly complex national stadium will be easy for thousands of spectators to navigate in November and December, despite it being their first visit.

This innovative thinking, technical and operational expertise was also used to create the overlay strategy required for the stadium to deliver such a major event. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for all visitors to the stadium, this has required levels of temporary transport and on-site logistics infrastructure that are akin to designing a small town.

Christopher Lee, Managing Director – EMEA, Populous, said:

“We are proud of the part our team has played working with Foster + Partners and Arup in delivering a world class stadium for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, and beyond that for football in Qatar and the wider Middle East region. This project showcases the breadth of specialist design and technical expertise required in the delivery of major stadiums, as well as the planning and execution of the world biggest sporting spectacles.”


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