A new sports stadium designed by Lebanon’s MZ Architects, though experimental, differs from the glitz and glam we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Instead of showing off with dramatic curves and shiny glass, the proposed “Rock Stadium” would be buried in the Al Ain desert and will work with the natural elements, being concealed by the its rocky landscape.
The Rock Stadium (Courtesy of MZ Architects)
Situated within the Jebel Hafeet mountain range, the 660,000-square foot, 40,000-seat “Rock Stadium” is carved into its mountainous backdrop, also using using local rock to mimic the desert’s unique patterns and innate character. From a distance the stadium blurs into its background, but up close visitors are led through grand passageways inspired by the Greek temple of Anahita leading down to the hidden green playing field. At night, beams of light would illuminate the sky above the stadium, becoming an emblem for national events and activity.
Architects worked with a team of geologists, stone specialists, and cave experts to determine the project’s feasibility. “The original thought was to build a stand-alone stadium but, when I saw the site, I knew it would be perfect to carve into the mountain,” architect Marwan Zgheib told The National. “I think it is the dream of every architect to work on a design which focuses on sustainability through design more than through technology.”
While the Rock Stadium is still only a proposal, Zgheib hopes it could eventually be built. Already, the project won an Emirates Glass LEAF award for Best Future Building recognizing top global design in September. No construction timeline has been announced.