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Margaret Court Arena’s time to shine

The newly revamped Margaret Court Arena opened to critical acclaim during Week One of its first Australian Open since construction was completed at the end of last year.
Designed by NH Architecture + Populous, the $183m redevelopment means that the Margaret Court Arena now has a state-of-the-art retractable roof; the fastest closing in Australia. The refurbishment also delivers Melbourne and Olympic Parks its third all-weather venue – more than any other Grand Slam precinct – effectively weatherproofing the Australian Open.

For the specialist architecture firm Populous this is its second Grand Slam venue; having also designed the new roof over Wimbledon Centre Court in London, completed in 2009.

CEO of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, highlighted that the great thing about Margaret Court Arena is the speed at which the roof closes, as he explained:

The roof closes in less than five minutes. I don’t know of any arena in the world that can beat this and it is going to be a huge benefit, because now the weather will not disrupt play. You can start bringing the roof in a little closer while playing continues and then during the changeover completely close the roof.

As with all retractable roofs, the redevelopment enables Margaret Court Arena to evolve from a single-use tennis venue to a true multifunctional facility. The primary use of the arena will continue as host to major matches of the Grand Slam tournament, but it will also host netball, basketball, concerts and entertainment events, enabling Margaret Court to be a functional all-weather boutique venue for a busy all year round schedule.


Margaret Court Arena Redevelopment: Project Stats

Following on from the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Masterplan, Populous was commissioned by the Victorian Government, with joint venture architects NH Architecture, to design the latest phase within the precinct redevelopment.

The new multi-purpose arena includes 7,500 seats, an innovative cable-driven operable roof and concourse connectivity to the adjacent Rod Laver Arena. The construction took 3 years to complete and included staged handovers for each interim Australian Open. The project is also aiming to be the first LEED accredited sports venue in Australia with a brief requirement to attain LEED Gold.

The architectural form of Margaret Court Arena was derived from an understanding of key individual design elements; roof, bowl, concourse and the undercroft. The result is a cohesive architectural form conceived as a ‘container’– where the seating bowl becomes the key architectural expression allowing concourse areas to be developed independently. Large areas of glazing maximise views to the surrounding context and expose the internal architecture and internal spaces to passers-by.

The innovative pleated roof profile reduces the structural depth of the roof and importantly reduces the visual bulk of the building. The pleated roof also provides the flexibility to fold the roof 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.