Leigh & Orange Limited create slick equestrian arena in Qatar
Located at the heart of Education City in Qatar, the Performance Arena creates the interface of the al Shaqab Equestrian Academy with both the local and the worldwide equestrian communities. The brief for the Performance Arena demanded that international equestrian events be held in all weather conditions with facilities for 8,000 spectators. L&O's response was to propose separate indoor and outdoor competition arenas which could both be viewed from the same grandstand.
This unique grandstand addresses both arenas whilst seamlessly accommodating the individual requirements of VIPs, sponsors, spectators, media, athletes and judges in the one compactly planned building. These facilities and the sheltered warm-up arena are linked visually by a dramatic 400m ‘clamshell' roof - which not only provides the focus and image for the Equestrian Academy but is the lynchpin for the sustainability of the Arena.
The roof has been designed to be structurally efficient whilst minimizing the enclosed volume and provides diffused natural lighting to the indoor arena. Stratified air-conditioning further reduces conditioned air volume as well as the temperature gradient at the roof. Externally the overhangs of the roof provide shade to the glazed facades below for 75% of the day whilst allowing the integration of the floodlighting for the external arena - without the use of unsightly masts.
The stone faced walls at the base of the Performance Arena reflect the local forts whilst integrating the building into its desert surroundings. The roof hovers like a Bedouin tent over the entire complex - creating a strong but not dominating statement that respects the environment, history and culture of Qatar.
This internationally significant building not only creates an ‘icon' for the whole Education City campus, it also takes an environmentally and culturally sensitive approach to express the enduring fascination of mankind with the horse and its unique abilities.