Tennis Arena Features ‘Folded,’ Retractable Roof

This year’s Australian Open in Melbourne was marked by the opening of the newly enclosed Margaret Court Arena. With a new retractable roof and steel-and-glass facade enclosure, the open-air concrete tennis arena has not only received a makeover, it has also been transformed into an enclosed building that can host entertainment and sporting events year-round. The retractable roof that tops the arena visually appears to be formed from folded plates that disappear to create a rectangular opening, and can be opened or shut in a mere five minutes. 

“We wanted the roof to be finely tuned, sleek, and slender, [while] not being the typical ‘slab’ of roofing material and engineered steel structure,” said Richard Breslin, a senior principal with the Brisbane office of the global architecture firm Populous, who wrote in response to questions posed by Civil Engineering online. 

Additionally, “[the arena] needed an identifiable presence within the precinct,” Breslin noted, so that it was “clearly identifiable when looking at it from the city or [when] passing by.”

The new enclosure and roof for the arena were designed by a joint venture comprising two architecture firms and two structural engineering firms. The architects are Populous’s Melbourne office and Melbourne-based NH Architecture; the structural engineering firms are the Melbourne office of Aurecon and the Austin, Texas, office of Walter P Moore.

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