Foster wins Lusail Stadium job for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup
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Foster + Partners wins Lusail Stadium job for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

Foster + Partners will design the stadium that will host the opening game and closing ceremony for the controversial 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar.

The British architecture firm has won an international competition to design Qatar's 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium, after developing a previous scheme for the site as part of the country's winning World Cup bid in 2010 (pictured).

The stadium will be the centrepiece of a project by developer Qatari Diar to build a new city called Lusail on the western coast of the country, 15 kilometres north of Doha, at an estimated cost of $45 billion (£30 billion).

"This is an exciting step forward in stadium design – it will be the first to break the mould of the free-standing suburban concept, and instead anticipates the grid of this future city, of which it will be an integral part," said practice founder Norman Foster.

"The project also pioneers the idea of an ongoing life for the stadium beyond the big event. The environmental strategies, particularly those that address the players as well as the spectators, will also be of international interest to the sporting public as well as those concerned with the architecture."

Foster + Partners wins Lusail Stadium job for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup
The previous 2010 design for the Lusail Stadium

Foster + Partners will work on the project with engineering firm Arup and sports architects Populous, who designed the main stadium for the London 2012 Olympics.

The firm did not release details of the new design, but it will have an open-air pitch, and cooling systems will be added to keep temperatures inside at 26 degrees Celsius.

Images of a Foster design for the stadium first appeared in 2010 when Qatar was chosen as the 2022 host. But according to British architecture magazine the Architects Journal, David Chipperfield, Mossessian & Partners and Mangera Yvars Architects were also in the running to create the final design.

Five new stadiums are already under construction for the tournament.

Zaha Hadid is collaborating with architecture and engineering firm AECOM to design the 40,000-seat Al Wakrah stadium in the south of the country, with mechanical air conditioning and passive cooling elements to keep the temperature below 30 degrees Celsius.

Despite assurances from stadium designers that temperatures inside stadiums could be controlled for athletes and spectators, a FIFA task force has now recommended that the tournament be held in November and December instead of in its usual summer slot. This could result in the final being played as late as 23 December.

The timing is also affected by the scheduling of the Winter Olympics at the beginning of the year, and Ramadan in April. FIFA is due to make a final decision this month, but the proposed change in timing has been strongly opposed by participating countries and other football organisations.

The Qatar tournament has been dogged by controversy. Last year, an investigation into conditions in the Qatari construction industry by British newspaper the Guardian found that over 500 Indian migrants and 382 Nepalese nationals had died in the country since 2012.

Foster + Partners wins Lusail Stadium job for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup
The previous design for the Lusail Stadium

A report broadcast last June by American sports channel ESPN spoke to workers who were living in "squalor" in camps and said they were unable to leave as their employers held their passports.

Asked about worker conditions in the country, Zaha Hadid said it was the responsibility of the government to resolve any issues.

"It's not my duty as an architect to look at it," said Hadid. "I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it's a problem anywhere in the world."

"I have nothing to do with the workers," she said. "I think that's an issue the government – if there's a problem – should pick up. Hopefully, these things will be resolved."

A statement published on the website of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for the new-build stadium projects, said that all contracts for the Lusail Stadium would "incorporate the SC's Workers Welfare Standards".

"Contractual enforcement of these standards and a rigorous four-tier auditing system will guarantee international best practice on Lusail Stadium and all venue and accommodation sites," it said.