“Sport is one of the few things that unite people, whatever their background.”
The complex includes a 65,000-seat soccer stadium surrounded by a manmade lake in the shape of Iraq. The site also features a 10,000-seat secondary stadium, four training soccer fields, team housing facilities, a VIP guesthouse and associated infrastructure buildings.
The selection of Iraq to host the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations, a biennial soccer tournament for Arab countries, drove the development of the project, which is located outside the southern port city of Basra. Iraq’s Ministry of Youth and Sport wanted this project to spur growth and development in the area while introducing Iraqi athletes to the world stage.
The design of the marquee venue reflects local architectural influences, recalling a proud past while serving as a bridge to a modern era. Inspiration for the main stadium design came from Basra’s timeless and essential icons, from the date palm tree to traditional woven goods. Paying homage to the patterned facades of traditional Iraqi homes, the textured skin also provides a functional response to the local climate.
More than 480,000 square feet of synthetic cladding encases the stadium, forming large panels that interweave with steel columns. The external wrap and roof sheets are supported by a massive steel structure weighing 19,000 tons.
By integrating graceful yet strong forms and surfaces, the architecture expresses the speed, power and perpetual movement of soccer.
The main contractor was Iraqi company Abdullah Al-Jiburi. HOK teamed with this contractor and associate architect/engineer RMC-Partners to deliver the project under a design-build contract. Use of 3D modeling, animation and web meeting technologies helped the multinational team work efficiently while overcoming geographic and language barriers. Additional engineering and design consultants included Thornton Tomasetti, WSP Group, Langan Engineering, Lloyd Engineering, WJHW and Cini-Little.
2.77 million sq. ft. / 257,340 sq. m.
Main stadium: 65,000 seats
Secondary stadium: 10,000 seats
Innovate: Integrate Exhibit, AIA New York Chapter – Innovative Curtain – Wall Design