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Populous unveils three-sided stadium overlooking cliffside in Saudi Arabia

Architecture studio Populous has revealed its design for the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium in Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia, which is a proposed 2034 World Cup venue.

Named after Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the stadium in the Qiddiya entertainment district will have a retractable roof and pitch.

One side of the stadium will be a large, retractable LED wall, which will be used to broadcast live events, films and laser shows. When retracted, it will reveal an opening that allows the pitch's three-sided seating to overlook the 200-metre-high Tuwaiq cliff that the stadium is perched upon.

Clifftop Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium by Populous
The stadium will have a stacked geometric form covered in digital screens

"It is set to be the world's first fully integrated venue with a combined retractable roof, pitch and LED wall – an architectural innovation offering unparalleled versatility and allowing the space to transform into different event modes in a matter of hours," said Populous.

Digital screens will cover the exterior of the geometric venue, which appears to rise out of the cliffside in a series of staggered blocks.

Surrounding the stadium will be towers of sports and entertainment spaces connected by an internal street, also covered by LED screens, that will direct visitors to openings with cliff-edge views.

Sports stadium in Riyadh covered in LED screens
An LED wall will feature on the side of the stadium overlooking the cliff edge

"The stadium exterior is formed by a collection of modular cubes that act as an extension of the Tuwaiq cliff, framed by portals that glimpse into the future of the city," said Populous senior principal Rhys Courtney.

"The cubes and portals spill down the cliff to create a massive digital canvas that interacts with users at different scales – from street-level vistas to the three-sided seating bowl experience, to citywide views – transcending the stadium typology."

The stadium forms part of Saudi Arabia's bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup, with Populous designing the 45,000-seat stadium to FIFA requirements.

It will become the home ground of Saudi Arabis's pro league football clubs Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr, but the stadium is set to host a range of events in sports, entertainment and culture, including boxing, esports, concerts and theatre performances.

"The Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium represents a quantum leap in stadium design and a new generation of digitally-enabled innovation," said Populous managing director Chris Lee.

"The level of embedded technology will enable both incredible gaming and entertainment experiences and a new way for fans to watch and enjoy football itself."

Clifftop Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium in Riyadh
The stadium will be the central venue in the Qiddiya gaming and esports district

The Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium will be the focal point of a wider entertainment and esports district for Qiddiya designed by Populous, which is also set to include a neon-lit esports arena.

With construction underway to the west of Riyadh, Qiddiya is one of 14  "giga-projects" planned to boost tourism in Saudi Arabia and is 100 per cent owned by the Public Investment Fund.

As well as the Populous-designed stadium and esports area, the entertainment megaproject will contain concert halls, a race track, a Jack Nicklaus-branded golf course and a Six Flags theme park with the world's longest, tallest and fastest rollercoaster.

Populous designed the stadium to be well integrated into Qiddiya city and connected to other venues in the gaming and esports district through park-and-ride facilities and drop-off zones. Hotel, shopping and dining areas will be built close by.

Low-energy, climate-controlled facilities will ensure comfortable temperatures year-round, including a lake built under the stadium that reuses captured rainwater to pre-cool the air conditioning system.

Other designs by Populous include the redevelopment of Manchester City's Etihad Stadium to add a hotel and museum and the Geodis Park stadium in Nashville, which the studio claims is the US's largest purpose-built soccer stadium.

The images and video are courtesy of Populous.

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Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium in Riyadh by Populous