Perth Arena

Perth Arena

ARM+CCN, a joint venture of ARM Architecture and CCN Architects

The design of Perth Arena is based on Christopher Monckton’s Eternity Puzzle, a puzzle filling an almost regular dodecagon (polygon with twelve sides and twelve angles) with 209 irregularly shaped smaller polygon pieces. The architects designed an impressive, flexible concert venue and sporting events stadium. It is a piece of architecture that resembles a giant and complex jigsaw puzzle.

With its 9800 triangular panels and a thousand rectangular panels, its architects - Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM) and Cameron Chisholm Nicol (CCN) – appear to have used the rhetoric of the puzzle to describe the building’s outward and inward aesthetics. However, this interpretation is rather superficial, based on subsequent impressions rather than the architects’ original ideas.

 

The idea of the puzzle can be extended to the very essence of the building. Containing a flexible concert venue and sporting events stadium with a capacity of 15.000 people, where coaches can drive directly onto the arena floor, and featuring five multipurpose function rooms, a 686-bay car park in the basement, a 56-metre by 35-metre retractable roof that opens in just seven minutes, 36 corporate suites, and half a dozen food and beverage outlets; the building is highly complex. Interlocking basket- ball courts slide over tennis courts. It is easy to see how a puzzle became the vehicle for its external expression. Its sheer multi-functionality makes Perth Arena an impressive giant 3D puzzle and piece of architecture.

 

The complex is based on ‘Eternity,’ a puzzle that was launched in 1999. Thought to be practically unsolvable, its manufacturer offered a £1 million prize for whomever could solve it within four years. Unsurprisingly, it became a global craze, and was solved about a year after its launch. By the time Eternity Puzzle II came out in 2007, preparatory construction work for Perth Arena had already begun.

 

Located in the city centre, the new 28.000 square metre arena replaces Perth Entertainment Centre as the first phase of a 13.5-hectare urban renewal project to link Perth’s central business district directly to Northbridge by sinking the Fremantle railway line. Opening last November, the building cost AUD 548.7 million (about €355 million) and has become home to the Perth basketball team, the Wildcats, and the international tennis tournament, the Hopman Cup.

A thousand rectangular panels and 9800 triangular panels

UNIQUE FAÇADES

Whether viewed from the grand boulevard to the south or from the elevated freeway to the west, the building has been designed so that no façade or entrance can be seen as more important than another. Instead, the building is defined by nine unique façades, which take the form of interconnecting polygons that fold over and overlap each other. In turn, these façades are broken up by the colour ‘International Klein Blue’, white and black cladding, and glazing panels arranged in bold geometric patterns, reflecting the explosive atmosphere of events held inside. This theme is continued at the interior entrances, foyers, and multifunctional spaces where splashes of red, orange, and yellow have been added to timber panelling to aid zoning and orientation, and as a continuation of the entertainment vibe.

Lots of glass and skylights create light and airy function rooms

 LIGHTWEIGHT AESTHETIC ELEMENTS

In the context of such a complex façade system, Reynaers created a bespoke solution based on the CW 50 Structurally Clamped Curtain Wall range. The glazing has been adapted to a nonstandard shape with parallel sashes to integrate seamlessly into the overall triangular cladding system. The design can withstand all wind loads, thermal movements, structural movements, and system loads imposed by the building’s diagonal transoms. For ARM and CCN, the system had to merge into the lightweight aesthetics of the exterior. During the day, the windows appear almost - if not completely - invisible against the other façade materials. At night, however, bolts of light streak across the building, transforming it once again. Inside, the windows are the connecting device between outdoors and indoors. The variously angled glazing frames that merge with the patterns on the exterior are picked up and continued in alternative directions.

 

And as if the building’s structure and aesthetics were not ambitious enough, Perth Arena also has a strong environmental agenda with mixed-mode natural ventilation, low-energy displacement air conditioning, and photovoltaic arrays on the roof. With U-values of approximately 1.5 and an SHGC ranging from 0.23 to 0.6, the CW 50 system fulfils these ambitions. The building has also been recognised for its bespoke windows by the Australian Window Association by means of the ‘Best Use of Windows and Doors Commercial – New Construction’ award.

 

For all the building’s complexity, however, it has been designed to be easy to navigate and bring people together. Standing at over fifty meters tall, the circulation spaces are arranged around huge atriums. Staircases within these spaces allow visitors to get a perspective of their orientation and feel more connected to activities happening on the many different levels; aided by more than 300 screens for digital signage. This method of opening up floor plates in strategic areas also means that away from the atrium, by the food outlets and bars, there is a cosier ambiance with lower ceiling heights. A similar approach has been taken in the main arena itself where differently sized events and more intimacy can be accommodated by curtain screens which pull across to divide the space.

 

In Perth Arena, the architects have created a building with the level of buzz through its vivid colours and dynamic geometry that will attract acts to the city that may not have otherwise visited. And most importantly for Perth, and Western Australia as a whole in relation to the East Coast, it keeps the city and its sporting and entertainment scenes vibrant.

CW 50-SC bespoke façade solution

Project solution 

Systems:

  • Bespoke solution based on CW 50 structural clamped façade

Project description:

Development of a bespoke solution to be used in a very complex inward and outward sloping façade

  • The irregular shaped elements required custom-made glass supports and T-connections
  • Integration of several irregular shaped Parallel Opening Windows in the façade
  • Special corner connections
  • Bespoke transom and mullion
  • Frames had to be slim with a minimum of aluminium visible through the glass
  • Bespoke finishing profile and accessories

Elements:

  • Mullions of some elements are clamped onto a steel substructure
  • Several different-sized elements with irregular shapes
  • Air-Wind-Water testing in the Reynaers Institute

Glazing:

  • Some elements in single and some in double glazing
  • Acoustical variants with a 32 mm spacer and an acoustic layer between the glass panes
  • Due to the high loads caused by the slope, special protection was foreseen to avoid the glass from falling out.
Fabricator: 
Alcom Fabrications
Architects: 
ARM+CCN, a joint venture of ARM Architecture and CCN Architects
Location: 
Perth, Australia View on map
Photographer: 
Stephen Nicholls
Other partners: 
BGC Construction (General Contractors)
Used systems: