Built to disappear: World Cup stadium 974

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Of the seven stadiums Qatar has built for the World Cupone disappears after the tournament.

That’s what the organizers of the games said about Stadium 974 in Doha – a port-side structure with more than 40,000 seats, built in part from recycled shipping containers and steel.

Qatar says the stadium will be completely dismantled after the World Cup and can be shipped to countries that need the infrastructure. Outside experts have praised the design, but say more needs to be known about what will happen to the stadium after the event.

“Designing for disassembly is one of the most important principles of sustainable building,” said Karim Elgendy, an associate fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House who previously served as a climate consultant for the World Cup.

“It allows for the natural restoration of a building site or its reuse for another function,” he said, adding that a number of factors should be considered “before calling a building sustainable.”

Buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions. Of that, about 10% comes from “embodied” carbon or greenhouse gas emissions associated with the construction, maintenance and demolition of buildings.

Qatar has drawn international criticism for its treatment of low-wage migrant workers who have spent more than $200 billion building stadiums, metro lines and other infrastructure for the World Cup. Qatar says the criticism ignores labor reforms implemented in recent years.

Stadium 974, named after Qatar’s international dialing code and the number of containers used to build the stadium, is the only venue Qatar has built for the World Cup without air conditioning. During a Friday game in which Switzerland defeated Serbia, the air was noticeably more humid and hotter than at other venues.

The stadium only hosts evening matches, when temperatures are cooler.

Fenwick Iribarren Architects, who designed Stadium 974 and two other World Cup stadiums, says the idea was to avoid building a “white elephant,” a stadium that remains unused or underused after the tournament ends, as happened after previous World Cups in South Africa, Brazil and Russia.

Qatar says it has developed plans for the other six stadiums after the games are over. Many will have some seats removed.

The multicolored shipping containers are used as building blocks for Stadium 974 and also to house facilities such as restrooms in the structure’s interior. Like gigantic Lego blocks, the bright red, yellow and blue corrugated iron boxes seem to hang between layers of steel. The design gives the stadium an industrial look.

Qatar has not detailed where the dismantled stadium will go after the tournament or even when it will be demolished. Organizers have said the stadium could be repurposed to build a venue of the same size or several smaller stadiums elsewhere.

Where the components go matters because of the emissions caused by shipping them thousands of miles away.

Carbon Market Watch, an environmental watchdog group that has examined Qatar’s sustainability plans for the World Cup, said whether Stadium 974 has a lower carbon footprint than a permanent stadium comes down to “how often and how far the stadium is transported and reassembled.”

FIFA and Qatar recognize this in a report in which the stadium’s emissions are estimated. If the stadium is only reused once, they estimate that emissions will be lower than a permanent stadium, as long as it is transported less than 7,000 kilometers (about 4,350 miles).

If repurposed more than once, it could be transported farther and still be less polluting than a permanent site, they said, due to the energy-intensive construction of multiple new stadiums.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the World Cup’s organizing committee, did not respond to a request for more information on post-tournament plans.

The report also did not take into account operational emissions – or emissions produced by running a building – once the stadium is repurposed, because standards differ in different countries, FIFA and Qatar said.

“The energy required to disassemble and ship the building components will obviously need to be estimated,” Elgendy said, “but it is unlikely to outweigh the carbon contained in the building materials.”

For now, the design of the stadium is not lost on the spectators. On every match night, fans entering and exiting the stadium take selfies against the modern, industrial facade. A total of seven matches will be played in the temporary stadium, with the last on Monday between Brazil and South Korea.

Jhonarel Miñoza, a 42-year-old resident of Qatar who is originally from the Philippines, said she and her sister wanted to see a match in each of the seven stadiums.

Miñoza, an administrative officer who has lived in Qatar for five years, said she heard about Stadium 974’s unconventional design before the game she attended on Friday.

“I really wanted to know how they built it,” Miñoza said. “When I came in here, I was just watching them do it.”


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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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