Yagan Square, Perth, Australia

Creating a vibrant cultural precinct for Perth Central Business District

  • Aurecon’s role: Structural, civil, facade, traffic, wind, geotechnical engineering and environmental planning
  • Client: Development WA (Formerly Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, Government of Western Australia)
  • Project team: Lyons Architects, main architect and lead consultant; Iredale Pederson Hook architect; Aspect Studio landscape architect

Aurecon’s innovative engineering solutions helped to create a vibrant cultural precinct for Perth.

Located in the heart of Perth’s CBD, within the arms of the heritage-listed Horseshoe Bridge, Yagan Square has become one of the city’s most popular community, meeting and celebration places.

More than just a transit area for the thousands of workers and residents connecting with public transport or walking between the CBD and Northbridge, Yagan Square was envisaged to be a cultural precinct in which to have fun, meet, play, eat and shop. The development of Yagan Square means the CBD is now connected to Northbridge, Perth’s arts precinct, with a hub of activity day and night.

The square includes a three-storey restaurant and café building with irregular steel facade and an illuminated steel-framed beacon to the north symbolising the lakes which were once located on the site. To the south lies a geometrically complex market hall with exposed raking concrete structure for local produce, a large cantilevering steel-trussed restaurant and a rooftop garden and playspace. Linking the two buildings is a suspended glass and corten steel bridge overlooking a lightweight tiered amphitheatre sitting over the sunken rail tunnels. Completing the development is a 45m tall digital tower formed with a cluster of steel tendrils representing native reeds, surrounded by several large open spaces for pedestrian use.

Innovation can be seen throughout Aurecon’s engineering design, which includes structural, civil, facade, traffic, environmental, wind and geotechnical engineering. Our technical ingenuity has brought the client’s vision to life and provided the city of Perth with a new public space.

Creating a cultural precinct

The creation of this latest cultural precinct integrates stories of the Whadjuk people, the traditional owners of the land, within the fabric of the architectural design.

In line with the architectural design, Aurecon engineered striking cantilevered overhead canopies to symbolise the ancient lakes that once flowed through the area. The structural design for the canopies facilitated a safe, simplistic construction methodology even though the structure is complex in nature.

Achieving the client’s vision for Yagan Square was challenging given the multiple rail tunnels directly below ground and being surrounded by the heritage Horseshoe Bridge.

Reducing the impacts on surrounding infrastructure

Working over active rail lines and live HV cables required a construction methodology that limited downtime to rail services and ensured safety of workers and rail users.

The use of steel framing in manageable lightweight sections, with simple and repeatable bolted connection details allowed all structure over rail lines to be fabricated early in the programme, test-fitted and inspected safely at ground level, and then installed rapidly over just a few nights, with no shutdown of rail services required.

Aurecon worked closely with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (now Development WA), Public Transport Authority and the contractor to install sensitive monitoring devices throughout the site to track and minimise the impact of construction works on the underground rail and the bridge structure.

This programme substantially reduced the risk of ground activities such as piling to surrounding public infrastructure and allowed operations to continue throughout the construction programme.

Designing the geometry of the tower for wind movements

A key feature of Yagan Square is the steel-framed digital tower adjacent to one side of the site. Its geometry and location meant the framing of the tower was particularly prone to turbulent wind, risking long-term damage.

Aurecon undertook complex CFD environmental wind modelling and wind tunnel testing to determine the most suitable structural design to withstand wind turbulence.

A programme of wind monitoring during construction was also initiated that involved the design and fabrication of custom electronic sensors placed at the top of the tower to track wind movements.

Using the combined data, the engineering team refined the lighting fin design on the tower to dampen the effects of wind on the structure and ensure its stability in the future.

Our advanced innovative engineering and focus on cultivating close working relationships with all stakeholders enabled us to overcome the complexities of the design challenges at the site, to reflect the architectural intent and create a new public facility for Perth.

Opened in 2018 Yagan Square breathes new life into Perth and is an inviting and lively meeting place where locals and visitors can connect with each other and celebrate the Western Australian culture.


The project has won the following award:

  • Winner: Australian Steel Industry Award 2020 – National and Western Australia – Steel Clad Structures category

Images courtesy of Peter Bennetts

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