The Margaret Court Arena project has transformed an under-utilised outdoor tennis court into a year-round entertainment venue, as part of the Victorian Government funded $366 million Stage 1 redevelopment of Melbourne Park to future proof the home of the Australia Open Tennis Championship.
The existing open air arena has been enlarged to seat approximately 7 500 patrons in comfort, enclosed with a retractable roof, full air conditioning and new sports lighting to meet current and future televised broadcast requirements. Furthermore, a new enclosed concourse has been added to provide a controlled environment for patrons and a significantly enhanced food and beverage offering. The existing building structure and services systems were also updated to meet current building standards.
Aurecon worked with architects NH Architecture and Populous, providing structural, civil and building services engineering services for the new arena. The crowning feature of the venue, the sleek operable roof, can be opened or closed in under five minutes, housing an arena suitable for tennis, basketball, netball and concert events. The roof incorporates large overhangs to provide sun-shading for patrons and provides the capacity to hang theatrical equipment for indoor concerts.
The engineering challenges of the roof were matched by the complexities associated with building over an existing structure, whilst enabling the ongoing operation of the adjoining Rod Laver Arena. Solutions included adopting mini-piles under the existing structure to support the columns of the new concourse level and roof structure above. This enabled the use of low-headroom piling rigs and minimised the extent of the existing structure that was to be demolished and re-built. All elements of the building were designed in a 3D virtual environment that meant the new works integrated seamlessly within and around the existing structure.
Particular care was taken by the project team in the construction of the venue to ensure the protection of the existing court surface and structure. Aurecon assisted Lend Lease in developing a range of practical construction solutions that not only allowed for the accurate and efficient construction of the venue but ensured that the Australian Open could continue at the venue during the three year construction programme.
Preparatory work on site by Lend Lease commenced in March 2012 and paused for the Australian Open 2013. After the 2013 Australian Open, site erection re-commenced in earnest and transformed the outdoor venue into a new Arena which has been used for the 2014 Australian Open.
In July 2015, the arena achieved a LEED Gold rating thanks to the best practice ESD principles that were applied throughout the project. It also won top category honours at the Australian Institute of Architects Victoria Chapter and it was a finalist at the Innovative Solution of the Year category at the World Stadium Congress 2015 and the Property Council of Australia Innovation & Excellence Awards 2015.