After six years in the making, Qatar has finally inaugurated Al Janoub Stadium, the country’s first purpose-built stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in collaboration with AECOM, the stadium’s eye-catching pleated shape takes inspiration from the hulls of dhows, the traditional boat of the region. To ensure long-term use by the community, the stadium includes demountable seats and temporary concessions that can be removed for post-World Cup events.

glass walls below curvy white roof

Located in Al Wakrah, a city 20 kilometers south of Doha, the Al Janoub Stadium is a 40,000-seat football stadium that can be reduced to 20,000 seats after the 2022 FIFA World Cup to better serve the community; the removed seats can be transported to a developing country in need of sporting infrastructure.

long building with curved white roof

pleated white roof

“The stadium was designed in conjunction with a new precinct so that it sits at the heart of an urban extension of the city, creating community-based activities in and around the stadium on non-event days,” Zaha Hadid Architects explained. “Al Janoub stadium will be a memorable venue and destination during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup and afterwards, at the center of its Al Wakrah community.”

curved, pleated white roof

soccer stadium below open roof

The stadium is further grounded into the local context with its boat-inspired design that reflects the maritime traditions and history of Al Wakrah, while the stadium’s operable roof, designed by Schlaich Bergermann Partner, mimics a sail and is built from pleated PTFE fabric and cables to match the cladding. The opaque roof and walls are articulated as pleated cross sections in a nod to Arabic motifs and calligraphy. The stadium’s white and off-white glossy surface finish evokes seashells.

Related: Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers

soccer field below open roof

people playing soccer on stadium field

In addition to the operable roof, the designers also ensure player and spectator comfort with passive design principles, computer modeling, wind tunnel tests and seating bowl cooling.

+ Zaha Hadid Architects

Photography by Hufton+Crow via Zaha Hadid Architects