Our client had very specific requirements including a versatile 2,500 square metre shade solution. It had to:
- be installed in 1 week and removed in 4 days
- provide an attractive, comfortable and shaded viewing area for the public
- be subjected to the heat and storms that Melbourne gets during summer
- provide a versatile space for this specific festival area which was visited by tens of thousands of fans during the tournament each year
It all needed to be designed, engineered, fabricated, test built, transported and installed onsite within a very short time frame whilst working around other contractors subjected to the same short installation window.
The purpose of this project was to shade and cover an area of 2,500 square metres and to cover up to 5,000 people watching tennis on the big screens, listening to live bands and enjoying the sporting tournament each year.
The client requested that this be designed, engineered, fabricated and installed within an 11 week time frame. It also had to be designed so it could be installed in 1 week, stay in constant use for 2 weeks, and be removed at the end of the tournament within 4 days.
The public safety factor was as high as it gets having such large numbers of the public visit each day during the tennis and it being required to be in constant use without any down time for the fans.
At the end of the tournament the structure needed to be packed away and stored, ready to be reinstalled every year for the next five years.
There were three specific requirements for this project that added significantly more complexity to it than other parts; the timeframes for delivery of the finished structure, design and engineering requirements within a very short time frame and the amount and type of ballast required for a temporary structure of this size, in an exposed location.
In order to design, engineer, manufacturer and install within 11 weeks, we had to start manufacturing steel and fabric prior to the engineering finalisation and sign off. This required an extensive design process with a versatile system that could be adjusted as the process went on.
The short installation timeframe of six days meant we had to find a balance between large structural steel members and quick installation methods. We developed a very fast installation mechanism utilising truss and pin connections. We also designed a cable grid system around the perimeter of the sails to reduce infrastructure and to save installation time.
To finish the installation onsite within our window we utilised 2 cranes, 4 boom lifts, 2 forklifts and a crew of 23 riggers and support staff. All these were coordinated on site amongst 11 other installations taking shape at the same time. There was no room for error as all facilities for the patrons still had to be set up after we finished the structure installation and the engineers and council had signed off. The start of the tournament had a fixed date and changing it was not an option.
The fabrication timeframe was also a challenge. Industry collaboration was also key in this process. We worked a few of our industry alliances to work together to accelerate the fabrication and deliver on such a large project in a short amount of time.
The site of this project was on council land, and so we could not excavate or pour fittings. There was a make good component at the end of the tournament which meant the ground had to be returned to the previous state following the removal of the structure at the end of the tournament. Which meant, despite the 2,500 square metre scale of the project, infrastructure had to be held in place by temporary ballast blocks.
It took 6 semi-trailer loads to deliver all the custom concrete ballast. To manage the extreme loads on some of the cables, we also had to developed an anti-skid mechanism for the ballast blocks to meet the engineering requirements.
As there was a limited number truck movements we could fit in the site during installation, we needed to design a structure that could be loaded in under 14 semi-trailers. Therefore, we could not make all the infrastructure out of steel. We designed the structure so more than half of the coverage was achieved with cables.
Truck movements were kept to 13 semi-trailers; this included over 100 tonnes of ballast.
We also had to design and engineer this structure at a minimum height of 12m to clear the site lines of the stage. This required some extensive engineering analysis to make sure that a structure as high as that could withstand the massive wind loads it would be subjected to.
The result of this project was a huge, flamboyant temporary shade structure that really wowed the Melbourne crowds and brought fabulous colour to the city’s skyline.
It provided excellent coverage for the extreme heat and increased the public numbers watching the event, which in turn gave the client much larger revenue and media exposure in this precinct.
Numerous individual systems went into the final shade structure design to meet the very specific criteria set by our client including; temporary ballast instead of permanent footings, the comparatively light weight truss system for the column supports and internal frame as opposed to a more traditional design incorporating steel members to support the internal shade cloth and the perimeter cable grid system.
The staging style truss design also gave the client a solution that could generate additional income for them to recouperate additional return on their investment. This was achieved by designing a versatile truss and fabric system, where all or parts of the structure could be rented out to other events in different configurations. Since the event, the client has been approached by several other event producers to rent the structure for alternate events.
Is there any other relevant information about this project that has not been covered in the above questions?
Our client was heavily involved with the project from the initial design phase right through to the final pack up and storage at the end of the tournament.
The professionalism of the manufacturing and installation process combined with the overall visual impact of the structure and the reception it received from the Melbourne crowds enhanced the experience for everyone involved with the project.
The structure also provided the client with a large media focal point to show they are looking after the public by providing shade.
The future potential for additional income for the event by hiring out the structure has also provided the client with a good financial return for future years to spend on other applications.