Zayed Sports World

Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Zayed National Stadium is the remnant of an earlier era of city building. It has served a central role as a single use facility for national and international soccer matches and athletic events for thirty years. Given the opportunity, a newly-defined national icon can continue to provide future programmatic, cultural and community needs as a center piece of a comprehensive new ‘Arzanah.’ The task was broken into two initial questions: ‘what does the stadium want to be?’ and ‘what are the critical connections to its context?’

Our scheme for the Zayed Sports World originates from these two questions and from simple observation of the vernacular urban architecture and climate. This regional architectural approach is centered on ways to protect against intense sunlight and heat while encouraging street life by means of shaded streetscapes and screened-window openings. The ‘souk’ – a traditional marketplace – is an important aspect of the public realm, featuring a mode of sun protection together with controlled light-infiltration this ambiance sustains lively environments. The physical manifestation of a renewed souk unites the city’s goals of introducing urban mixed used districts, native ecologies, and multi-use sports. This bold new complex consolidates the program of community related sports activities, competition venues, sports-related education and the national icon, into a single complex which fosters communication and urban life.


Abu Dhabi, UAE


Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi, UAE


Behnisch Architekten, Los Angeles


Abu Dhabi