If you’ve ever had the experience of driving through a vast, mostly uncluttered landscape that is suddenly interrupted by a large, ill-fitting manmade structure, then this project by MZ Architects will appeal to you. Sustainability experts with offices in Lebanon, Morocco, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere, the designers have pushed the stadium underground and set it apart from the remaining void with sharp planes that are camouflaged from a distance. The concept has been designed for Al Ain – Abu Dhabi’s second largest city.
Sinking The Rock has multiple benefits. First it allows the building to blend in with the surrounding landscape, adding to its allure rather than destroying it. But it also allows the designer to utilize passive cooling strategies that will minimize the stadium’s energy loads once it is “up and running.”
Very concered to minimize non-renewable resource consumption and harmful toxins in their projects, MZ Architects will reuse the materials that are displaced during the construction of the stadium. This further reduces the embedded carbon footprint as fewer materials will have to be shipped in from afar to realize the program.
Like many contemporary architects, the firm has taken inspiration from the ancients both conceptually and philosophically. The first Greek stadium ever built took the surrounding topography into consideration and many subsequent stadia were partially submerged, while the Temple of Anahita – a grand entrance into the underground world – will lend a metaphysical aspect to Al Ain’s desert sporting events.
While large developers continue to construct obscene projects that pay absolutely no heed to environmental or planning concerns, sometimes to tragic effect as the recent fire in Qatar reveals, it is very refreshing to notice a more thoughtful trend emerging from designers servicing desert countries. Although informed by longstanding strategies, this new trend is by no means backward. It merely recognizes that nature will eventually prevail.
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