MZ architects: rock stadium MZ architects: rock stadium
oct 04, 2012

MZ architects: rock stadium

‘the rock stadium’ by MZ architects, al ain, UAE


lebanon and abu dhabi-based practice MZ Architects were approached to design ‘the rock stadium’, a sports facility at the heart of al ain in the UAE.

the designers worked with the site in order to achieve a visionary design that merges architecture and landscape, blurring the boundaries of the built

and the natural to create a space that allows the visitor to interact with the desert alongside athletic activities. sunken into the cooler depth of the desert sand, the exterior presents itself to the visitor as a series of sharply inclined planes emerging from the ground. in addition to the volcanic mountain backdrop in front of which they lay, define the space of the seating and its related activities, allowing for the

conglomeration of a large number of visitors amidst a vast landscape.


taking cues from ancient examples of amphitheatres and temples, the project refers to the first greek amphitheatre that worked with the topography,

taking it a step further by sculpting the terrain, refining its elements and playing with the mass and void relationship. a grand entrance into the underground creates a monumental approach similar to the imposing entrance of the temple of anahita. 


the 200,000 square meter structure is set within the jebel hafeet rocky mountains


long and narrow corridors connect the parking space to the stadium through scattered openings and perforations into the main rock façade.

breaking planes emerging from the ground and form fractured intersections to carve out passageways that lead the visitor to the entrance.

using the local materials and playing with a carefully studied palette of rock and sand, the main façade and visual panels system adhere to the

location while contributing to a sustainable construction and design approach where everything is reused. patterns are created with the

recuperated stone, producing man-made strata that emphasize the natural characteristic of the site. issues of scale, timing and activity were highly

investigated to deal with the challenging issue of  the building’s massiveness and to avoid the often voided space. blending into its surroundings, the project plays on the notion of distance to alternate between being camouflaged at distance and aforceful presence at close range.


lighting up at night displays the active evenings, generating a massive light beam that projects from the ground straight into the higher sky,

becoming a symbol, a sign and a guiding agent to the national event and place of activity in an otherwise direction-less and homogenous environment.


site photo


site photo


stadium entrance


interior view


at night


site plan


mass plan



strata extraction process


  • shades of Michael Heizer

    dbkii says:
  • The images are poor, the project too, I’m sorry but I can’t imagine myself being there during a sand storm, it would be very very hard to maintain and honestly it looks like there is no design in there.

    Arq. Andros says:
  • Coincido totalmente con este carnal de arriba (Arq.Andros) como que este proyecto se le ocurrió en la pachipeda del fin de semana, necesita trabajar mucho más este concepto, la idea es muy vaga. MZ architects póngase chingón!

    Alberto says:
  • Ok…. it really is very cool, AS A CONCEPT. I am afraid I have to agree with Arq. Andros had to say regarding sandstorms. It isn’t addressed, thus the project is not functional. It is an interesting thought though.

    Nicholaus says:
  • sorry to tell you but this is a poor try to make a stadium like the one that SOUTO DE MOURA execute to SCBRAGA in Portugal.
    try to look at it and understand the concept.
    when we adopte a concept done before we must improve it not destroy it!

    ANTc says:
  • In theory I like the idea of not being able to see the building, but I think I like to see buildings tho…and it looks great here (in renderings), but how would it look surrounded by the required parking lots?
    and as for the similarity to SOUTO DE MOURA, I don’t see it anymore than in any other half submerged structure that uses existing geography as part of it’s structure.
    In the end, I like it. That’s one.

    Bedlamite23 says:
  • I like the concept, but the project is far from completely thought out. The direct sun and sand storms must be addressed and the parking, if not concealed will eliminate the beautiful simplicity of this work. How about parking remotely placed elsewhere and a continuous overhead monorail transporting the fans.” Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

    Fred A. Saas, Architect says:
  • Como mantener el cesped limpio en medio de tanta arena?
    para que pagar entradas su subiendo al talud veo mejor y gratis?

    concreativas arq says:
  • It’s the outcome in both creativity and visionary of exeptional architecture

    Khiensak Kent Seangklieng says:
  • if they build it the Stones will play there

    meagain says:
  • Just one thing : if there is a sandstorm, it would be surprising that they plan an event….

    jpb says:

    ANDRE ROCK says:


    Mr SANDSTORM says:

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