The Australian Open of 2014 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.
The brief was to create a new significant and innovative multipurpose sports venue. This extensive transformation of Melbourne Park will ensure this major sports and events precinct remains competitive on an international level and included amongst the top facilities of its kind in the world, from the perspective of both patrons and players.
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 coper, black zinc, Kimberley sandstone, concrete and polished stainless steel.
The big roof generates large overhanging canopied 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 glass frontage offers an interior view of the atrium, as crowds flow from one event to the next.
The 7,500 capacity raked seating of Margaret Court Arena, allows for clear visuals at all angles, amongst the high density crowds during the annual Australian Open.
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, whilst now being host to a range of premier concerts, events and public occasions.
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 arcs of the interior timber panels are designed to reflect the parabola of a bouncing tennis ball, whilst the metal hand rails of the upper -level walkway emulate the drooping texture of a soggy tennis net.
Colloquially known as ‘Bruce McAvaney Corner’, the glass frontage provides panoramic views of the outdoor court and skyline, making it a popular spot for broadcasting interviews. Lying nestled within close proximity of both Melbourne’s CBD and the Yarra River, the folded overhang also provides an angular juxtaposition to the neighbouring cityscape.
The extensive use of timber applied to the major concourse areas reflect the project’s unique location along the tree-lined Yarra River. The interiors are further complimented by a warm and earthy grey colour palette.
Warm and neutral colour palettes allow for distinct brand overlays. This is required, not only for the Australian Open, but for a wide variety of premium entertainment events.