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Complexity and creativity
David Ward, regional manager at Redealli Engineering, discusses some of the company’s recent success stories, why he loves Wembley Stadium – and how the Italian structural engineering expert became a record breaker
What services does your company offer to the industry?
The Redaelli Group is a world-leading manufacturer of steel cable solutions for structural applications. In real terms, this means a variety of galvanised and Galfan-coated locked-coil and spiral-strand cables used to create and support long-span, lightweight stadia roofs. We also design and engineer an extensive range of associated cable clamps, spacers and connector plates and provide specialist installation advice, equipment and technical supervision. Tension cables have also more recently been used to define the structural form as the main cable-net support for inflatable ETFE-clad stadia.
Tell us an interesting fact about your company
We're a world record breaker! The Guinness World Record for the heaviest piece of steel rope ever produced is currently held by Redaelli. The rope was produced at Redaelli’s new state-of-the-art factory in Trieste Northern Italy on 25 February 2011 and weighs a staggering 926,150 lbs (420.095 metric tonnes). It is 12,631ft 10in (3,850m) in length. The application in this instance was for deep offshore deployment but we are constantly innovating new solutions to maintain our position as a technological leader in the steel cable business.
What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
An increase in long-span, lightweight roof designs with an emphasis on clear sightlines provided by the use of appropriate materials and designs to create visually appealing stadia. I see a thirst for ever-more imaginative and unique stadia shapes and designs – particularly the external appearance of the stadium. There are several iconic-looking stadia, each of which has a notable external feature (e.g. the Berlin Olympic stadium open aspect, the Wembley and Durban arches, the Allianz Arena and Soccer City coloured cladding and the Mbombela Stadium ‘giraffes’). The visual impact on the approach to a stadium is an important part of the stadium experience – and is being taken to another level with projects such as the Bursa ‘crocodile’ stadium (pictured below).
I also see a trend for retractable roof stadia design to provide all-year-round events in hard-climate locations with greater spectator comfort.
Can you tell us about your involvement in the Narodowy National Stadium project in Warsaw?
The tension fabric stadium roof is supported by a complex steel cable-net structure manufactured by Redaelli Engineering. The centre section of the roof is a cable-supported folded retractable membrane construction. The unique non- circular/non-ellipse shape of the permanent section of the roof resulted in concentrated stresses at each of the roof corners – a challenge that was solved through the introduction of large- diameter locked-coil cables (up to 150mm in diameter and capable of generating a minimum breaking strength in excess of 23,000kN) into the cable net design – believed to be the largest ever used in this application.
Redaelli Engineering followed this with other notable successes, manufacturing the locked-coil cables used in the main tension ring on a similar retractable membrane roof for the BC Stadium in Vancouver. The cable supported Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy and the Arena Fonte Nova for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
As stadia designs become more creative, there is a demand for ever-more complex cable systems. As the timescale for some of the major event stadia can become increasingly compressed and value for money from project budgets is (rightly) under constant and intense scrutiny, new and innovative products and construction methods/sequences are needed. The challenge is to reduce significant amounts of site time for major construction phases – such as the stadia roof –and therefore make this and future stadia projects more economically viable.
Corrosion protection of cables is also a major issue that needs to be addressed. The advent of Galfan-coated cables in place of traditional galvanised product over recent years and the development of additional corrosion protection systems, including Tensocoat and Tensocoat Titanium has provided robust corrosion resistant and visually pleasing cable solutions.
What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
In the case of the Narodowy National Stadium in Warsaw, we were prepared to make significant investment in enhanced stranding equipment to increase the diameter and hence the individual cable-load capacity that it is able to offer. In this way, it was possible to reduce the need for pairs of cables to single cables.
Significant research and development work is also under way for the use of stronger, more lightweight cable solutions – both in steel and composite materials.
What’s your favourite stadium/sports venue and why?
Until our visit to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, I would have gone for the new Wembley Stadium in London – probably entirely borne out of my bias as being a proud Englishman! The stadium is visually stunning on the approach with first-class spectator facilities and a superb view from any seat in the house (although, is it necessary to recoup all of the £798 million stadium building cost from the hot dog, burger and pizza stalls?!)
Having been fortunate enough to secure tickets for the Brazil versus Portugal game at Durban in 2010, however, I was captivated by the whole Moses Mabhida Stadium experience – a stadium that the word ‘iconic’ was made for. It has breathtaking views of the city from your seat through the open aspect behind the goal and generates an incredible atmosphere on match day, with the stadium acoustics perfect. On non-matchday, it was even possible to ride the arch on the sky car and adventure walk. I’m told bungee-jumping was the next plan for the arch! An unforgettable experience.
Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
Still vibrant. I see a constant stream of innovative stadia designs as technology is developed that satisfies the imaginative designs being created by architects and engineers. I expect an increased awareness of sustainable resource management and this to be reflected in stadia design – for example, the use of solar energy, rain harvesting, etc.
I would expect more multi-use venues and a shift from major 50,000+ capacity to mid-range-capacity venues.
If the Olympic and FIFA World Cup committees continue with their strategy of developing new host countries, an exciting legacy stadia stock will be created in many of the developing countries.
Redaelli Engineering will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8-10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 3016