Revamped Margaret Court Arena ready for Open


Margaret Court Arena (MCA), home to the Australian Open tennis tournament, has been given a complete transformation to create the precinct’s third all-weather arena.

NH Architecture + Populous was appointed by Major Projects Victoria on behalf of the Victorian government to complete the AUS$183m (US$145m) redevelopment. The project was completed late last year in time for the 2015 Australian Open. The new MCA includes a retractable roof, seating for 7,500 spectators and concourse connectivity to the adjacent Rod Laver Arena.

As well as staging Grand Slam tournament matches, the multi-purpose venue will also host netball, basketball, major concerts and entertainment events. Its operable roof is the fastest closing roof in Australia, able to shut completely in less than five minutes enabling MCA to function as an all-weather venue all year round.

According to the architects, the copper penny color of the metal roof has been deliberately designed to complement the existing architecture, including Rod Laver Arena, while the color and shape of the roof is also said to reflect traditional elements of Melbourne architecture, particularly the sandstone, zinc and copper of buildings along the Yarra River. The roof’s pleated profile reduces its structural depth and reduces the visual bulk of the building, while also folding down to pedestrian level to provide weather protection, particularly at venue entrances. Large roof overhangs on all sides of the building provide shade to the surrounding concourse and public realm.

Other key design elements of the revamped MCA are the bowl, concourse and the undercroft. Conceived as a container where the seating bowl allows concourse areas to be developed independently, large areas of glazing maximize views and expose the internal architecture to passers-by.

The project is also aiming to be the first LEED accredited sports venue in Australia. Sustainable strategies have already been adopted to reduce potable water consumption. Enabling works have provided the infrastructure for rainwater harvesting and treatment facilities which include a 4.5Ml storm water retention tank to capture rainwater from the new roof. Preliminary calculations demonstrate an overall reduction of 45% in water use against conventional arena design water efficiency measures.

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