Zayed Sports World

Zayed Sports World

Project by Behnisch Architekten, Los Angeles

CLIENT: Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi


OPENING: Competition - concept completed in 2008

PROGRAM: Stadium, Retail

the renewal of an iconic structure fully integrated into the new urban fabric

The Zayed National Stadium is the remnant of an earlier era of city building. It has served a central role as a single use facility for national and international soccer matches and athletic events for thirty years. Given the opportunity, a newly-defined national icon can continue to provide future programmatic, cultural and community needs as a center piece of a comprehensive new ‘Arzanah.’ The task was broken into two initial questions: ‘what does the stadium want to be?’ and ‘what are the critical connections to its context?’

Our scheme for the Zayed Sports World originates from these two questions and from simple observation of the vernacular urban architecture and climate. This regional architectural approach is centered on ways to protect against intense sunlight and heat while encouraging street life by means of shaded streetscapes and screened-window openings. 


our process

Turning a 1970's soccer stadium into a multicultural sports complex was the primary goal of the project. But, the primary challenge we faced was in converting the stadium while also marinating a seamless integration with the larger masterplan on all four directions. To achieve the primary goal, and to create a concept that addressed this primary challenge, we worked with officials from the government, the competition advisers and their team, and we focused on the macro and micro-climates of the site.

Although we won the competition, the project was never built.

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ArchitectureChristof Jantzen