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Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

The iconic new Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium, located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, City of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. It is the home stadium of Al Ain FC of the UAE Pro-League. The Stadium Features a floating steel cantilever roof clad with polycarbonate and tension membranes. The state-of-the-art stadium is the centerpiece of a mixed-use development that includes an adjacent sports center as well as hotel and further commercial facilities.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-02-ja-workshop-759x427 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© ja workshop

“The HBZ Stadium is Pattern’s first completed built project which opened in 2014. Until we conceived this project, all Middle East stadia appeared to mimic a European temperate climate model. Pattern rejected this notion and created an innovative design rooted in the hot dry climate of the region. The project epitomises our approach to design; patterns, maths, climate and culture. Through our methodology of rule based parametric design we have created the first parasol stadium roof.” – Pattern Design

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-03-Dennis-Gilbert-880x1200 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Dennis Gilbert

The parasol roof and palm bole shelter a seating bowl, also a product of its location. Taking the best of classic English football stadia a unique three tier bowl is a product of the community it serves. Promoting football for all, the stadium caters for all users: young, old, men, women, families and children. Appropriate segregation respects local customs and the three tier bowl (a first for a 25,000 seat stadium) has the majesty of much larger stadia whilst responding the scale of local football crowds.

The building façade – inspired by the pattern on the bole of a palm tree – features panels supported on a steel-framed diagrid system. The project team used computational design to rationalize the panel geometry, reducing the number of different steelwork connections and increasing their adaptability so fewer panel shapes were required.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-06-Dennis-Gilbert-759x433 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Dennis Gilbert

One of the most characteristic elements of the stadium is the external façade which consists of fabric elements resembling the trunk of a palm tree that also can be lighted by LED lights in 15 different content modes. On the top of the stadium roof, 200 floodlights are fixed to provide the illumination of after-dark soccer games.

Due to the extreme temperatures during the hot summer months, the palm bowl shape of the roof also provides pleasant conditions for both the players and the fans. It is one of the stadium’s uniqueness, which is designed in a way that matches can take place in the shadow after 5pm. On the inside, it reveals the complex geometry of its cantilivered steel trusses, which was achieved by using robotic cutting and welding technology.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-08-Pattern-Design-759x821 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Pattern Design

Design Philosophy:

  • Designs that achieve equilibrium between man-made structures and the natural world.
  • Employ the idea of patterns in nature to analyse all aspects of a project.
  • Mathematics and beauty are key research areas for the practice.
  • Buildings that enhance the user experience by addressing well-being and visual harmony.
Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-09-Dennis-Gilbert-759x546 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Dennis Gilbert

The Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has been completed after a 16-month ultra-fast track construction project. Built to FIFA standards, the stadium covers an area of 45,000 square metres with a capacity of 25,000 seats. The scope of the project further included a sports hall, commercial buildings and extensive exterior landscaping.

The stadium is part of another further development that covers 500,000 square metres and includes 700 apartments, green spaces, two office buildings, 50 restaurants, shops and a 170-room hotel. The project is the first component of this broader development that will have its effect first on the city of Al Ain, but also on the wider region including the neighboring countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-12-Dennis-Gilbert-759x646 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Dennis Gilbert

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-13-Pattern-Design-759x710 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Pattern Design

Pattern Design:

The Hazza Bin Zayed (HBZ) Stadium is the home of Al Ain Football Club, one of the leading clubs in the United Arab Emirates Pro League. Designed by Pattern, the 25,000 seat FIFA class football stadium reinvents the sports architecture sector in the Gulf region by embedding the city’s unique historic and climate into the very fabric of the architecture.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-14-Pattern-Design-759x968 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Pattern Design

Al Ain is the second-largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and has been inhabited for thousands of years. It is well known for its date palm plantations, which are possible due to the naturally-occurring ground water harnessed via a complex falaj irrigation system. Due to its location, the city of Al Ain experiences a dry and arid desert climate. In response to these factors, Pattern have used the latest parametric technology to create a complex outer façade, which is inspired by the rotating fractural geometry of date palm fronds. This “Palm Bole” façade references its context in a poetic and progressive way and acts as a passive cooling device; shading the building during the heat of the day whilst allowing fresh air to flow. Within the bowl this creates comfortable spectator conditions and aids grass growth for the pitch.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-16-Lindner-Steel-759x427 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Lindner Steel

The roof for the HBZ Stadium is the first example in the Gulf region that is specifically designed for solar protection. Most stadia in the Gulf are based on the European model of a drip-line roof that has been developed for wet climates and are therefore redundant in most cases. In reaction to this, Pattern took inspiration from the Arabic head-dress and developed a sinuous and gravity-bending parasol roof that shades the pitch and its spectators during a match, whilst allowing enough sunlight on the pitch during the day to allow the natural pitch to flourish. The apparent levitating nature of the roof allows all spectators an unobstructed view of the action and intensifies the atmosphere within the bowl during a match.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-19-Lindner-Steel-759x427 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Lindner Steel

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-24-Dennis-Gilbert-759x476 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Dennis Gilbert

A key area of investigation was the audience segmentation, which is very different to an American or European model. The unique slope cut lower tier addresses this by creating more high value seats. The Stadium is part of a wider development of complementary uses that prioritise pedestrians and reduce the visual and environmental impact of cars.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-25-Dennis-Gilbert-866x1200 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Dennis Gilbert

As a typology the HBZ Stadium is very much a stadium in a community; a club ground in an urban context, not a remote venue in a sea of parking. To this end, stadium assets are concentrated in the west stand to maximise non-match day opportunities and create a vibrant year-round destination. As well as supporting the broader development, this approach will expose a wider demographic to the Stadium: young, old, male, female, families and football fans.

Hazza-Bin-Zayed-Stadium-By-Pattern-Design-29-Pattern-Design-759x671 Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Pattern Design

© Pattern Design

Project Data:

Project name: Hazza Bin Zayed
Location: Al Tawia, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Coordinates: 24.245005, 55.717000
Type: Stadium
Project area: 45,000 sqm / 484,380 sq.ft
Number of Seats: 25,000
Construction Year/Period: 2009-2014 2012–2014
Status: Built
Cost: €145 million
Completion Year: May 2014


  • 2016 – WAN Awards – Category: Sport in Architecture – Shortlist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: AAFAQ Holding
Architects: Pattern Design – 22-25 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DF, United Kingdom

Master plan and Interiors: Broadway Malyan Architects – 3 Weybridge Business Park, Addlestone Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BW, United Kingdom

Project Team:

  • Alan Mclean, Alice Aldous, Andrea Cunsolo, Andy Hau, Carol Taffinder, Celia Aldridge, Clare Kennedy, David Ola, Dipesh Patel, Eamonn Kelly, Ece Cakir, Edoardo Milli, Eldred Godson, Frank Anatole, Gabrielle Tester, Janet Ashong Lamptey, Jon-Scott Kohli, Laura Baker, Lindsay Johnston, Loreana Padron, Matthew Aidan, Michael Lowe, Myron Sullivan, Nick Tyrer, Patrick Tee, Prasanna Kumar, Ruth Hiscock, Tony Russell, and Vicky Chang

Manager/Operator: Al Ain Club Investment Company
Contractor: BAM International


  • Engineer of Record: Mark Habre Associates
  • Engineer: EC Harris
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Structural Engineer Roof: Schlaich Bergermann & Ptn
  • Structural Engineer Superstructure: WSP


  • Building Services: Hoare Lee
  • Catering: Tricon
  • Pitch Consultant: STRI
  • Transport: Mott MacDonald and Langan
  • Fire, Estidama, VT, Waste, Acoustics: Hoare Lea

Text Description: © Courtesy of Pattern Design, Thornton Tomasetti, BAM International
Images: © Pattern Design, Dennis Gilbert, Thornton Tomasetti, ja workshop, Lindner Steel, Broadway Malyan Architects


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