November 8 - The architect designing one of Qatar's main 2022 World Cup stadiums says installing air conditioning in all the venues is the wrong approach.
The senior principal of Populous – architects of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium and also lead architects for Doha's 2020 Olympic bid – John Barrow, says he is trying to persuade the Gulf state to adopt a better system for long-term use.
Qatar's planned revolutionary cooling techniques underpinned their landslide 2022 World Cup victory last December.
Air-conditioned stadiums are planned to beat the searing 50-degree desert heat of the summer and the same argument is a key factor in Qatar's bid to stage the 2017 World Athletics Championships, for which they go head to head with London in Monaco this Friday (November 11).
It has already been reported that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Evaluation Report criticises the effectiveness of the cooling technology that Doha plans to install at the Khalfia Stadium, the proposed venue if they are chosen to host the 2017 World Championships.
But London-based Barrow says air conditioning is too expensive and "notoriously unsustainable" when used on a large scale.
Populous has been commissioned to design the Sports City Stadium and Barrow says they can be kept cool far better by shading seats and using traditional Arabic methods for ventilation.
Although Qatar have been consistently playing up their sophisticated cooling techniques, Barrow favours an alternative wind tower system to create fan-like air movement inside the 47,000-capacity Sports City Stadium (pictured).
Spectators, he says, could easily be kept comfortable at 30 degrees during matches, all or most of which are due to take place in the evening.
"The Qataris have mentioned a yardstick of 26 degrees with or without air conditioning," said Barrow at the International Football Arena here.
"But actually it's all about relative humidity.
"The problem they've got is that 50 degrees during the day sucks in the heat until, by the time you sit down in the evening, you are sitting on a radiator.
"The objective for me is to keep the bowl screened during the day with natural ventilation, then using all sorts of clever tricks such as wind towers – a kind of chimney effect – and convective cooling that is anyway part of local tradition.
"It may be slightly warmer for fans but this is a complex equation between temperature and humidity.
"It'll be perfectly satisfactory for viewing audiences – they are used to it already.
"My objective is not to have air conditioning any more than we need to.
"It costs a fortune and is notoriously unsustainable in large volume.
"I think we can be more clever.
"It's very important to get the shading, entrancing and departure right in terms of comfort.
"That's a pre-requisite, otherwise it's hopeless."
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