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The Rock Stadium, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Friday 25 May 2012

A landscape reworked

© MZ Architects, All Rights Reserved 
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Award Entry

Set into the desert landscape, the Al Ain stadium celebrates the game it hosts as much as the site in which it lays 

Sunken into the cooler depth of the desert sand, the stadium, like a hidden treasure, presents itself to the visitor as a series of sharply inclined planes emerging from the ground. These planes, in addition to the volcanic mountain backdrop in front of which they lay, define the space of the stadium and its related activities and create a magnificent place that allows for the conglomeration of a large number of visitors in the heart of the vast landscape.

Issues of scale, timing and activity were highly investigated by the architects and by forcing the stadium into the ground, the designers were strategically able to deal with the challenging issue of immensity of scale and of the often voided space. The project not only gracefully blends itself into its surrounding but plays on the notion of distance to alternate between a strong camouflage at distance and a forceful presence at close range. A sculpted landscape or a defined void, the project lights up at night allowing the active evenings to turn the stadium into a massive light beam that emerges from the ground straight to the higher sky and creates a symbol; a guiding agent to the national event and place of activity in an otherwise sign-less desert environment.

Inspired by ancient examples of stadia and temples, the project refers to the first greek stadium that worked with the topographic landscape of its site, taking it a step further and challenging the site to new measures by sculpting it, refining its elements and playing with the mass and void relationship. The project also borrows from the Temple of Anahita and the idea of grand entrance into the underground world and creates a monumental approach to the space of events.

Working with the existing site and using the local materials, the architects find themselves playing with a carefully studied palette of rock and sand that not only lead to the main facade / visual panels system adhering to the site but also create a more sustainable approach to construction and design where no material is forgotten or displaced and where all is reused. Careful patterns are created with the recuperated stone, creating interestingly designed man-made strata patterns that emphasise the natural characteristic of the site.

Key Facts

Status Concept design
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
MZ Architects

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