Award for Excellence 2017, Tension& Air Supported Structures 250sqm to 2000sqm

The Pacific Fair Porte Cochère was part of the $670 million Pacific Fair Shopping Centre redevelopment on the Gold Coast. The entrance canopy was designed to be an iconic feature structure to crown the main entry point of the Centre, inspired by the shape of a ‘Whale’s Tale’, which is often viewed in the Pacific Ocean a few blocks away.

The Porte Cochère project was designed to fill both a functional and an aesthetic requirement from the client. The primary purpose of the structure was to create a dramatic architectural feature that would draw people into the shopping centre.
Functionally, the structure provides weather protection for people entering the shopping centre from the main entry point.
The client requested the wow factor in the form of a sculptural fabric structure; a structure that was both aesthetically striking and functional.

The structure itself is a dia-grid shell structure that takes the form of a "whale tail", so it has both convex and concave parts to the shell. This creates very complicated geometry for both 3D modelling and steel fabrication.

  • For the convex parts of the shell, the PTFE fabric was offset from the primary dia-grid using steel T sections welded to the top of the dia-grid members.
  • For the concave area, the natural double curvature of the fabric lifts the fabric off the top of the steelwork until it meets the edge beam. Here it is connected via an aluminium extrusion and steel cleats on the steelwork.
  • The roof structure is supported by two branched tri-columns at the front which spring from ground level and at the rear over head. Steel struts provide support from two points on the third level rooftop car park.
  • A perimeter gutter collects water run-off, which is then diverted into downpipes. These downpipes are concealed with the columns to ground level.
  • Steelwork: a dia-grid structural system with tri-tree columns on the front, expanding to existing infrastructure.
  • Columns’ steelwork coating: Dulux Quantum FX paint system, delivering a metallic protective coating with a semi-gloss finish.
  • Fabric: PTFE fabric was chosen for its high translucency, longevity and tensile strength.
  • The structural system of the Porte Cochère is a dia-grid shell structure with both convex and concave parts to the shell, taking the form of a ‘whale tail’. This creates very complicated geometry for both 3D modelling and steel fabrication.
  • For the convex parts of the shell, the PTFE fabric was offset from the primary dia-grid using steel T sections welded to the top of the dia-grid members.
  • For the concave area, the natural double curvature of the fabric lifts the fabric off the top of the steelwork until it meets the edge beam. Here it is connected via an aluminium extrusion and steel cleats on the steelwork.
  • The roof structure is supported by two branched tri-columns at the front which spring from ground level and at the rear over head. Steel struts provide support from two points on the third level rooftop car park.
  • A perimeter gutter collects water run-off, which is then diverted into downpipes. These downpipes are concealed with the tri -columns to ground level.
  • The steelwork was 3D modelled by our engineer, Wade Design. The model was then given to our steelwork fabricator to produce the 2D workshops. Due to the complexity of the structure we trial assembled the entire roof in the fabricators factory to ensure correctness of geometry and fit up. The trial assembly was completed before final welding of all components. Final welding was completed after steelwork trial assembled. After final welding, the steelwork was disassembled for final checking, dressing and painting

The end result of this project was a breathtaking entry structure that exceeded the client’s expectations. It is a terrific addition to the redevelopment of the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre.

The Porte Cochere is an iconic representation of what is possible when building with tensile fabric.