ThyssenKrupp Provides Materials for Revolutionary New Roof Design

An interesting looking building is taking shape at the Olympic Park Precinct of Melbourne Australia locally called the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (MRS) but officially known as AAMI Park after the insurance company sponsor. Let’s get the name out of the way first, Australian Rules Football is played on an oval field so European soccer and Rugby are played on what is known as a Rectangular pitch hence the name as this new stadium will be home to two soccer teams, a rugby league team and a rugby union team plus extensive coaching, administrative and sports injury clinic facilities.

Source: ThyssenKrupp Business Services GmbH

More intriguing is the roof of the new structure, as the photo provided by the steel suppliers ThyssenKrupp Business Services GmbH in Germany shows, the structure is based on the geodesic dome designed by the American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller. This type of dome is made up of many small triangles held together by a fine lattice-like structure. It mimics construction principles that can be found in nature, is extremely stable and can enclose large spaces using comparatively small amounts of material. The panels are made up of a 4 sandwich of thin steel enclosing a foam core giving great strength but low weight, which is just as well since the design calls for 20 foot unsupported spans. The construction method, so the designers claim, uses half the material and hence weight than a conventional cantilever style roof. To provide long-term protection, the steel panels are supplied first with a zinc coating and then a 25 micrometers PVDF coating that is chemical and sunlight resistant to ensure many years of aesthetic quality.

The stadium is designed to seat 30,000 spectators and encloses a 450 x 270ft pitch but only uses 2,500 tons of steel in the roof shell even though the design calls for 280,000 sq ft of cladding. In addition there is 24 miles of custom built aluminum framework as part of the roof structure and 10 miles of roof guttering all the rainwater is collected and recycled into potable water for use in the stadium. Environmental sustainability being a strong part of the case made for the final choice of design according to the local government media material.

Is this the shape of roofs for large span structures in the future? I expect architects and sponsors will be looking to see how the structure performs and whether other construction costs outweighed the lower raw material requirements. But with raw material costs rising and the obvious aesthetic appeal of the structure in its favor one can be sure this won’t be the last.

–Stuart Burns

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