Perth Arena is WA’s landmark home of live entertainment, music and sports. Widely reported as Australia’s finest venue, the 15,500 capacity facility features breathtaking design and world-leading technology.  This feat of engineering and construction excellence features a main auditorium which has the capacity to transform into a diverse banquet space for up to 2000, or special event space for up to 15,500 people.

This international award winning structure is a composite steel and concrete frame. The car-park is a 25,000 m2 concrete raft between 750 to 1.5m thick, and the superstructure is steel with concrete slabs on permanent formwork, and concrete columns. There are also several large diameter steel columns exposed to view which rise some 40m to the underside of the roof.  The entry statement is a steel pipe structure designed to exactly reflect the outline of the façade, when viewed from the ‘sweet spot.’  The main components of the bowl frame are two steel trusses 115m long, 10m high and 2.0m wide which carry the moving roof.

The purpose built, strikingly angular façade is a design & construct component, consisting of a 2.0mm profiled sheet rain-skin onto which we clamped aluminium sections to form the grounds for triangular ACM panels.

The Arena features timber panelling throughout most of the public spaces, an expanded mesh ceiling throughout the concourses and a glass tile ceiling stretching out over the function space in one of the rooms. Floors are generally either granite tiles from the Kimberley, or gloss epoxy coatings, although the Back-stage bar has a polished concrete floor.  The events floor contains the Hopman Cup tennis surface which is protected by a ply cover for all other functions.

As the Arena is built on the site of an old lake, BGC had to excavate up to 5m below the existing ground level, which involved excavating through 100 years of contaminated soil.

The entire basement is below the water table by up to 3m, which meant that BGC would need to deal with more than 60 litres/second of water despite the Swan River Trust’s new restrictions on what material could be discharged to storm water, and so to the Swan.  Te treatment plant would have been too big to fit on the site, so in an attempt to limit water ingress, BGC chose to drive the sheet piles down to a layer of clay 20m below the existing ground level.

Apart from the planning problems inherent in a fast-track design process, the structure and finishes involved in this project are easily the most complex ever constructed in WA, and most likely in Australia.

Difficulties commenced in the ground, having to deal with potentially acid sulphate soils, sheet piling in the region of the HV cabling, vibration reduction close to the SEMEWE3 and gas line, dealing with new dewatering regulations and huge volumes of water, then continued with construction of the megatrusses, opening roof, and façade detailing.

The complex geometry of the building required intricate planning for every phase of the work. Much of the modelling was done in 3D and would not translate to 2D drawings, so everything required a surveyor to do the set out.

All the structural steel was modelled in 3D and at the peak of drafting, there were more than 60 people working on the project. It is a testament to the skill of the drafting company and fabricators that it all went together so well.

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