What’s the best way to get a nation of increasingly obese residents to embrace a healthier life? Host a World Cup and build a bunch of awesome sports clubs. Having secured 2022, the Qatar Olympic Committee has now commissioned Grimshaw Architects to install green recreational facilities throughout the emirate.
A friend of mine in Qatar just sent me a photograph of their car thermometer – it’s currently 50 degrees Celsius outside. Not the kind of weather most of us want to run around in, which might help to explain why so many Qataris are bulging at the belt.
So when Grimshaw Architects won an international competition to design sports facilities, they knew they had to come up with a project that would be easily deployable with a minor environmental impact, and provide plenty of shade for both users and spectators.
Qatar’s new Al Farjan recreational facilities come in a kit of sorts that can be scaled up or down – depending on where they will be placed.
They come with all of the amenities one would want, including facilities for football, volleyball, basketball, and handball. There are also courts, pitches, and playgrounds for the kiddies, as well as a cafe in the center and other social areas.
The idea is to provide a fun environment in which Qataris can improve their lifestyles, and become infinitely more healthy. But a good sports facility doesn’t happen by accident, it comes from thoughtful design.
Having worked with Qatar in the past, most notably with their awesome temporary pavilion for Rio +20 in 2012, Grimshaw Architects is well aware of the need to use smart materials to ensure a comfortable environment, while cutting down on water and energy use at the same time.
So, they set aside areas shaded by fabric canopies that resemble indigenous desert flowers, and tucked the seating areas into the dunescape, where spectators can cheer for their favorite athletes in comfort.
They also, and this is the first time I’ve heard of doing this but it makes great sense, they made sure that the facilities are not all on the same level. By varying the topography, Grimshaw makes it possible for a breeze to circulate throughout the entire complex, keeping things at least a bit more cool.
And because water is an ever more precious commodity, none will go to waste here. Waste water will be captured, purified, and reused for irrigation.
“We are delighted to know our design will create highly accessible informal public space that enriches social activities while also developing athletic talent within the local community,” said Grimshaw’s Keith Brewis.
“This project provides an opportunity for Qatar to encourage all its residents to lead healthy lifestyles.”