The Khalifa International Stadium opened in 1976 and is the venue for England’s opening match on 21 November. The original design was largely open to the elements, with little in the way of roofing or shade over the stands. Clearly local expectations of what was acceptable in terms of thermal comfort were very different to Fifa’s requirements in 2022. As elsewhere at the World Cup, mechanical cooling will be in operation during the matches.

The stadium was previosly renovated in 2005 for the 2006 Asian Games. The latest reinvention has been overseen by Dar Al-Handasah (who also designed the Al Bayt Stadium) with Fenwick Iribarren Architects, a Spanish practice with an impressive portfolio of stadiums. 

Architecturally this is perhaps not one of the most ambitious designs and clearly the architects have been constrained to some extent by working with an existing structure. But there is a satisfying simplicity to the design, particualry from within the stadium, where the gently undulating roof creates a calm and coherent space. 

A whole new permanent tier of seating has been built, adding another 12,000 seats and taking the stadium’s total capacity to 40,000.