From Zaha Hadid’s stunning Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar to Populous’s head-turning stadium for London’s Tottenham Hotspur, these structures will excite sport and architecture lovers alike
Arenas are no longer merely a place to watch sports—now, they’re cutting-edge structures that serve a multitude of purposes for fans of any age. This, of course, is not just because of the athletes, but also due to the famous architects who design the spaces. With firms such as Populous, Bjarke Ingels Group, Zaha Hadid Architects, and MAD Architects, these multiuse venues also double as public parks, food markets, and concert stages too. Gone are the days when fans only spent a few hours in the grandstands; the fields here (some of which are completed, while a few others are still in the construction stage) are designed as a destination to experience different types of fun outside of the main event. Below you will find seven stadiums that are pushing the boundaries of architecture and entertainment in a bold new direction.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (London)
Populous has been the driving force behind well-known stadium designs (Kansas City’s Arrowhead, London’s Emirates, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, to name a few). So it’s no surprise that such a venerable firm also spearheaded the all-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, whose home team is one of the most exciting teams in English soccer. The glass arena is mainly used for English Premier League football matches, but its retractable turf can easily be moved to accommodate American NFL football games and concerts too. There’s plenty to keep visitors busy: a sprawling atrium food hall, a microbrewery, a café, three pubs, and Europe’s longest bar (more than 200 feet). The crown jewel, however, is the upper-level glass walkway leading to the cockerel statue above the field.
Al Janoub Stadium (Al Wakrah, Qatar)
Zaha Hadid Architects constructed this sleek stadium with one major event in mind: the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Qatar. The blueprints were inspired by the maritime history of Al Wakrah as well as the aesthetic and function of a boat; the structure’s undulating shape is a nod to traditional dhows, and the retractable fabric roof can be unfurled like a sail when there needs to be shade. The 40,000-person structure also comes equipped with custom under-seat cooling systems that can withstand Qatar’s intense heat.
Quzhou Sports Campus (Quzhou, China)
Talk about out of this world. MAD Architects’ groundbreaking 7.5 million-square-foot Quzhou Sports Campus truly appears extraterrestrial, with venues hidden below the peaks of a landscaped park. On the outside, running trails link the hills and lakes that cover the underground arenas, which are brightened by the natural light of skylights. Among the arenas are a 30,000-seat stadium, a swimming pool, a gym, and a game hall. Additionally, the campus will have a science and technology museum in its final stage of development.
Howard Terminal (Oakland)
The phrase “Take me out to the ballgame,” has a whole new meaning at the forthcoming Oakland A’s baseball stadium. Bjarke Ingels Group has transformed the bowl into an entire entertainment complex and outdoor space, featuring a multilevel rooftop park that overlooks the diamond and harbor. Spectators will be able to watch the game from either the 27,000 seats or the 10,000-person standing room area among the park’s treetops when it’s completed in 2023.
Court Simonne Mathieu (Paris)
When Paris-based Marc Mimram architects dreamed up this new French Open tennis stadium, it wanted it to almost be camouflaged within its environment. The new court at Paris’s Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil botanical garden is encircled by custom-built greenhouses and glass walkways so fans can gaze at the lush collection of flowers, plants, and other flora from around the world. This sunny, open-air concept makes it a more peaceful experience for guests and players alike.
Bergen ByArena (Bergen, Norway)
Billed as a modern-day colosseum, the Bergen ByArena by the Danish firm 3XN is set to change the landscape of this coastal Scandinavian city. Around the concert and sports center, plans are in place to erect a cinema, hotel, and housing complex to draw both locals and tourists alike to the neighborhood. The entire campus will have a timber edifice and green roof to blend seamlessly into the historic wharf, waterfront, and mountainous backdrop.\
Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú (Mexico City)
This futuristic baseball stadium by Mexican architects Francisco Gonzalez Pulido and Alonso de Garay is a striking standout in Mexico City thanks to its angular canopied cover, which hovers over the main grandstand. From an aerial view, the jagged roof resembles the pointed trident logo of the Diablos Rojos del México team. Built over the footprint of the 1968 Olympic complex, the stadium is surrounded by an outdoor market, organic garden, and batting cages, all of which are open to the public.