Interactive Playground at New Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

Interactive Playground at New Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

Free Play
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates | View Map
Sports Centres
Stories By
Free Play

Pattern Design Ltd.
Product Spec Sheet

ManufacturersPhilips Lighting Signify
ManufacturersLindner Group
ManufacturersArmitage Shanks

Product Spec Sheet
by Franke

Interactive Playground at New Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

Free Play as Designers

Interactive Playground by Free Play Unveiled at New Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

Structures give children the freedom to play as they choose at the Al Ain FIFA stadium

Free Play, a New Jerseybased creative studio launched in fall 2013, is making its debut in a big way—at the newly opened Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the city of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. Free Play’s modular, customizable playground concept, which engages the senses and imagination of a child, was selected for a playground installation located just outside of the stadium.

Broadway Malyan, a global architecture and design firm reached out to Free Play founder Dan Schreibman as the project team searched for stateoftheart play pieces fitting for this new cutting edge stadium. “The UAE is at the forefront of bold architecture and design, and the stadium is a stateoftheart facility,” says Dan Schreibman, founder of Free Play. “This is an extremely high visibility location.”

Together, Schreibman and Broadway Malyan developed specifications, product selection, placement, and pricing. During that time, Schreibman also started working with BAM International, one of Europe’s largest contracting companies on final details for installation, shipment, and layout. Within just eight weeks Schreibman created the final design, worked on engineering and testing, and constructed the equipment. “Due to deadline, we needed to communicate and respond to each other quickly, and the eight hour time difference makes that tricky,” explains Schreibman.

The playspace, situated in a courtyard surrounded by retail, restaurants, and office spaces, features various play structures that give children the opportunity to have a sensory experience like no other. All of Free Play’s interactive pieces can be found in the playground:

The Maze: Children can engage with two of these structures, each comprised of cubes with round cutouts that create a labyrinth to explore on their own or with friends.

The Ant Farm: Organicshaped climbing tubes, which appear to float in space, allow children to climb up sheer walls into the suspended tubes and through invisible structures.

The Weeping Willow: The playspace features two of these structures: one with steel, aluminum, and bamboo chimes, and the other, with ropes. Children can climb, swing, or move through the ropes while the chimes create a beautiful musical experience.

The Corn Field: For the stadium’s playground, 100 corn stalks stand verticallycreating a cornfieldlike environmentand when gently touched, respond to contact.

Along with the various installed Free Play pieces, playgroundgoers will also find flooring from Londonbased Pavegen that lights up as people step on the slabs. Since the playground is in the desert, the play area will be covered by a structure with a shade shielding adults and children from the sun. “I’m terribly excited,” says Dan Schreibman. “I couldn’t imagine a better location.”

Hazza Bin Zayed [HBZ] Stadium

Pattern Design Ltd. as Manufacturers

Pattern Design Pattern is a London-based architectural practice focused on innovative rule-based parametric design. Mathematics and beauty are key research areas for the practice. Pattern are interested in projects that enhance the user experience by addressing well-being and visual harmony. They create designs that achieve balance between technology and the natural world.

Pattern’s methodology is founded on rigorous analysis. This informs contextual design solutions addressing local culture, climate and customs. The idea of natural patterns is employed to analyse all aspects of a project in order to create spectacular and dramatic places. Climatic Design Until Pattern’s Hazza Bin Zayed (HBZ) Stadium in Al Ain UAE, all Middle East stadia appeared to mimic an European, temperate-climate model. Pattern rejected this notion and created an innovative design rooted in the hot dry climate of the region. HBZ stadium illustrates Pattern’s powerful passive and rule based parametric design methodology to create simple natural solutions.

Project Summary Beginning in 2010, Pattern have been responsible for the architectural design of the HBZ Stadium as Lead Designer. Dipesh Patel, Director explains: “We are very proud to have taken the simple idea of shade in a hot climate, and invented the parasol stadium roof.” Al Ain boasts one of the oldest date plantations in the Gulf, and the Palm tree has a huge significance to the people and culture of the city. The HBZ Stadium uses this powerful symbol to create a passive façade that shades and promotes air movement through the Stadium.

With the parasol roof, the palm bole façade shelters the seating bowl. Taking the best of classic English football stadia, the unique three-tier bowl (a first for a 25,000 seat stadium) is a product of the community it serves. Promoting football to a new generation, the Stadium caters to all users: young and old, men and women, families and children. Appropriate segregation respects local customs and the bespoke bowl has the majesty of much larger stadia whilst responding to the scale of local football crowds. “HBZ stadium is our first built project. It embodies our design principles of natural order, mathematics and visual harmony. We are very, very proud of it and what we have achieved as a practice in our first 3 years,” says Director, Dipesh Patel.

Project Description The newly completed 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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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