Retractable Roof Boosts Australian Tennis 1

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
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A new high-tech retractable roof is set to make its debut at next year’s Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne.

With Australia’s latest teen tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios truly announcing himself at Wimbledon with some epic performances, thoughts are already turning to next year’s Australian Open.

The redevelopment of the 7,500-seat Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne Park will be completed in time for the Australian Open, and will feature a new state-of-the-art retractable roof.

Part of a $366 million major redevelopment that also includes an additional 1,500 seats, as well as fully air conditioned and a significantly enhanced food and beverage offering, the project has been designed for Major Projects Victoria by architects NH Architecture + Populous and engineers Aurecon.

The sleek and acoustically lined operable roof can be opened or closed in less than five minutes, enabling the multi-purpose arena to host tennis, basketball, netball and concert events throughout the year.

“The retractable roof at MCA, along with ground pass entry for fans at Hisense, will ensure more fans than ever before have access to uninterrupted tennis action, whatever the weather,” said Australian Tennis CEO Craig Tiley. “The redevelopment and stadium upgrades mean we could technically complete all Australian Open matches even with a fortnight of solid rain.”

“We are very proud to lead the way in world tennis as the only Grand Slam with three retractable roof venues, and MCA will feature what we believe to be the world’s fastest moving stadium roof.”

The copper penny coloured roof solution, developed by Aurecon in conjunction with the architects and sub-consultant Walter P Moore, allows the trailing edge of the roof panels to be supported by the fixed roof via a series of seven “mini bogies” for each of the two operable panels that measure approximately 57 metres by 32 metres.

The structure is crowned by a single downturned major truss that spans the leading edge of each roof panel, supported by the drive bogies, and which parks at the edge of the fixed roof when in the opened position. This allows for an astounding straight-line dimension of 1.25 metres between the top of the operable roof panel and the top of the fixed roof.

In a first for Australia, the operable panels are driven by single rail bogies which feature a rack and pinion system for accurate control of the roof positioning.

“A stadium’s roof is often a demanding structure to design and build, requiring a significant architectural and structural engineering effort,” said Aurecon project manager Mark Sheldon. “Even more so when the roof needs to be retractable, requiring specialist mechanical engineering input. Collaboration is key: aesthetics must meet the engineering requirements of strength, serviceability, reliability, and durability.”

Apart from the engineering challenges presented by the roof, arranging the works around the Australian Open tournaments meant programming for this project provided a significant challenge for builder Lend Lease and the consultant team.

Construction planning also needed to address the challenge of building over an existing structure while ensuring the ongoing operation of the adjoining Rod Laver Arena. The building has been designed in a 3D virtual environment due to the complexities associated with working within and around the existing structures on all sides of the site.

The goal is to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating upon completion. The arena’s design has focused on reducing operating costs and conserving energy, water and other resources during operation.

Modern stadiums are increasingly expected to be adaptable, high performance buildings that are able to provide multi-use functionality. The Margaret Court Arena redevelopment will see a facility that was normally only utilised for a few weeks during Australia’s summer months transformed into a year-round, multi-purpose revenue generating venue.

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  1. Julian P

    A fine addition to Victorian infrastructure.