Margaret Court Arena
This year’s Australian Open brought with it the opening of a transformed Margaret Court Arena, featuring an additional 1,500 seats, the world’s fastest retractable roof and new enclosed concourse areas that enjoy spectacular outlooks – not just to nearby tennis courts and sporting facilities, but also to the river, parks and the Melbourne city skyline. Responding to its prominent river edge location, the transparent outer skin of the building reveals the interior to a wider Melbourne audience connecting directly with the material quality of the surrounding natural environment. The timber clad interior circumnavigates the arena to become an active participant in the precinct.
The Melbourne connection is reinforced by the large copper-penny coloured roof, which is in direct response to the materiality of the Yarra’s existing public buildings: patina copper, black zinc, Kimberley sandstone, concrete and polished stainless steel. The big roof generates large overhanging canopies that fold down to pedestrian level to shelter patrons and visitors from the extremes of the Australian Open’s summer sun to Melbourne’s famous “four seasons in one day”.
The pleated roof is also a response to the global influence of the “virtual tourist”. Visitors who access the venue via the digital portal of smart phones, tablets and television are presented with an iconic image of the Arena generated by the ever present sky-chopper.
The ambition for the redevelopment was to create a civic landmark that belonged to the legacy of Melbourne’s public buildings dotted along the Yarra River: the 1956 Olympic Swimming Pool, the Myer Music Bowl, the Victorian Arts Centre and more recently Federation Square. It was also driven by the desire to ensure the venue maintains the Australian Open’s place at the forefront of World Tennis and can now be host to a range of premier concerts, events and public occasions.
Margaret Court Arena was completed in 2014, it won the Public Architecture Award (Alterations and Additions) at the 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Victorian Awards and has been awarded LEED Gold Certification.