Qatar should rethink its plans
to build air-conditioned stadiums for the 2022 World Cup and use
naturally cooled venues instead, according to the architect
commissioned to design one of its arenas.
John Barrow, senior principal with Populous architects who
planned and designed the 2012 Olympic Stadium in London and
Johannesburg's Soccer City World Cup venue, said it would be
viable to reach acceptable temperatures without using air
"The organisers want to have the big showcase stadium with
air conditioning but we are fighting hard to persuade them that
you don't need to have it," he told the International Football
"It's not good from a long term sustainability point of
view," said Barrow, whose company are designing the Sports City
The idea of using air conditioned stadiums was the
centrepiece of Qatar's successful bid to host the tournament,
which is due to be played in summer despite the scorching heat.
Ghana's Asamoah Gyan, who is playing for Al Ain in the
neighbouring United Arab Emirates, has expressed his concerns
about the welfare of players in such conditions and thinks air
conditioning is the only solution.
"It was difficult when I first got there because of the
weather and the climate and everything, but I think in November,
December, it is going to get easier," Gyan, who is on loan from
Sunderland, told Reuters.
"But I do think the climate for the World Cup in Qatar is
going to be really, really difficult.
"They are putting air conditioning in the the stadiums and I
think maybe it can help the football there because without that
I don't think people can survive because it's really, really
However, Barrow said that, assuming the matches were played
at night, the temperature inside the stadium could be reduced by
around 20 Celsius without air conditioning.
He added: "It's not just the temperature that matters but
relative humidity, air movement, moisture in the air.
"It's a question of using natural convection in the right
way, wind towers which naturally ventilate and screening the
stadium so it doesn't absorb the heat during the day."
Barrow said that careful designing of training pitches and
other facilities was also fundamental in reducing the affects of
"If you walk across an unshaded car park when it's 55
Celsius, you are going to need a change of clothes immediately.
"In Qatar, it's a pre-requisite to get the shading right and
the space between buildings."
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