A view of Stadium 974, designed by the firm Fenwick Iribarren with a capacity for 40,000 spectators. EFE/ Alberto Estévez

Qatar 2022, the greenest World Cup

By Javier Picazo Feliú

Doha, Oct 28 (EFE).- In a country surrounded by desert and bound by efficient resource management, sustainability has become a necessity at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a reality manifested in the design of the tournament’s stadiums and which makes it the greenest sporting event in history. 

Waste management, the use of sea water desalination plants, solar energy and the efficiency of the stadiums are some of the governing guidelines embraced during the construction of the World Cup venues. The pinnacle of this ethos can be found at Stadium 974. 

The 40,000-seat venue marks a milestone in innovation, design and sustainability as the world’s first temporary FIFA World Cup venue. Built from shipping containers, the stadium is set to be dismantled and reused after the tournament. 

An innovative product of Fenwick Iribarren Architects that pays tribute to Qatar’s commercial and seafaring history, Stadium 974 is located in Doha’s port area, close to the main bazaar and the capital’s downtown area. 

The stadium’s name, 974, is a reference not only to Qatar’s international dialing code but represents the exact number of shipping containers used in its construction. 

“We decided to make a stadium that would disappear after the World Cup, that can be transported, dismantled and rebuilt at the next World Cup,” Mark Fenwick, co-founder of the architect firm behind the design, tells Efe. 

“And, obviously, the symbol of global transport is the shipping container, it’s like a brick for transportation, it’s like a piece of Lego.”

The company has designed three of the eight stadiums for the 2022 Qatar World Cup — Stadium 974, Education City and Al Thumama. 

A view of Stadium 974, designed by the firm Fenwick Iribarren with a capacity for 40,000 spectators. EFE/ Alberto Estévez


For the architect, the idea of being able to breathe a second life into the stadiums was core to the design. 

“Obviously the big advantage is the possibility to reuse it. I can dismantle it, and reconstruct it as another stadium, or I can make 10 or 20 smaller buildings,” he said, emphasizing that the steel and the containers were all reusable. 

The current plan is to break down the materials after the tournament in order to build housing and a commercial center on the seafront. 

This way, not only is the stadium and its materials sustainable but so, too, is its location.

“This particular stadium, Stadium 974, is very unique, we’re building a World Cup-class stadium meeting all FIFA requirements through a purely modular design, so everything was built to be able to be taken down and reused in other places afterwards,” Organ Lundberg, Sustainability Senior Manager at the World Cup committee tells Efe. 

“But more than that, this particular site was an old industrial site, so we did a lot of land remediation and cleanup on the site as well.”


When it comes to stadium design for the Qatar World Cup, sustainability is all-encompassing, from energy and legacy, to waste management and the circular economy. 

“What we have done is evidently a spectacular design, in tune with the country. But there is also an element of cost efficient design,” says Fenwick. 

“The 974 could also be one of the cheapest World Cup stadiums, but I think that the functionality of the country is focused more on sustainability and care. 

“One of the evolutions in this World Cup has been that they want to make a much more humane World Cup, much more accessible to people,” he adds. 

The 64 matches at the Qatar World Cup will take place in eight stadiums spread over 55 kilometers, which allows fans to base themselves in one place and access all the events using public transport. 

“The fact that you can go from one stadium to another by metro, and see all the games in one day, is something unique,” Fenwick says. 

Sustainability lead Lundberg says the 2022 Qatar World Cup is the first in history to obtain the ISO 20121 sustainability certificate and ensure carbon neutrality. 

This endeavor begins with the stadium design, optimizing features such as wind flow, shading and insulation.  

In a nation where water is a precarious commodity, organizers have had to come up with fresh solutions by using recycled wastewater for irrigation and desalinated sea water for fresh water supplies. 


Al Janoub stadium, which can host 40,000 spectators and was designed by Zaha Hadid, is another of the tournament’s jewels. 

“All the elements of the design were done in a way to avoid it becoming a ‘white elephant’,” William Morales, head of the stadium’s operations, tells Efe. 

“And another important element is the cooling system, which is necessary when it comes to playing in summer (this year’s World Cup is being held in the winter), and the stadium allows that,” he adds. 

“The cooling system does not need to work on the whole volume (of the stadium), only where the fans are,” he adds. “There comes a moment in the air circulation when no more cooling is required, it just circulates.”  

It is through these careful, fan-oriented designs, the ethos of recycling, the legacy they leave for locals and the tiny carbon footprint that the Qatar World Cup has laid claim to being the most sustainable in history.EFE