Case study: Comfort is key - creating a “fan first” stadium in Perth

By ASSET e-news posted 10-09-2015 23:34

Project Director Perth Stadium Ronnie Hurst talks us through the finer points of constructing Perth Stadium on the banks of the Swan River.

Who: WA State Government
What: Construction of a 60,000 seat stadium on the Burswood Peninsular, which has the ability to seat up to 70,000. 
Why: Designed as a “fan-first” stadium  to host Australian rules football (AFL), rugby union and league, cricket and football (soccer) as well as entertainment events.
How much: The project budget is $AUS 918.4 million, comprising: stadium at $820.7 million, the sports precinct at $81.7 million and project management at $16 million.

Designers have taken a “fan first” approach to the new Perth Stadium to ensure the best possible experience for the general spectator. 

This approach has translated to more comfortable seating, more space between rows, improved sight lines, more roof coverage, more toilets and food and drink outlets, as well as better stadium access.

The stadium is being built on the Burwood Peninsular overlooking the Swan River, Perth’s largest waterway. The 60,000 seater stadium will have the ability to expand to 70,000 seats and will have a structural life of at least 50 years. It will be the permanent centrepiece for the redevelopment of the peninsular. 

The design draws inspiration from the state-of-the-art configuration and seating at Etihad Stadium in Docklands, Melbourne. 

The design

The unique bronze façade will pay homage to Western Australia’s unique geology and ensures the structure will be instantly recognisable.

A fabric roof will provide coverage to 85 per cent of spectators in the stadium and will incorporate 26,000m2 of polytetraflouroethylen (PTFE – a fluorocarbon water resistant fabric) providing the most coverage of any open air stadium in Australia with protection from a range of weather conditions. PTFE has previously been used in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York and more recently as part of the Adelaide Oval redevelopment in South Australia said Ronnie Hurst, Project Director Perth Stadium.

In addition to this, the field of play orientation has been designed to minimise shade effects on the grass playing surface to provide maximum shade protection to spectators.

“The 50 steel trusses for the roof structure will be manufactured in a local factory (near Fremantle), and will be transported by road in one piece (each about 45m long) to the construction site, and lifted into place by crane, around 40m from the ground,” said Hurst. 

Technology also plays an important part in the stadium design. The design has been future proofed to include 4G WiFi coverage across the stadium and sports precinct. In addition the stadium will include two 240m2 giant video screens as well as more than 1000 TV screens placed throughout the stadium for fans to keep following play when away from their seats. Delayed procurement of stadium technology will ensure the latest technological advances are utilised.

“State of the art LED lighting will also be imbedded within the façade providing the opportunity to digitally highlight the home team colours at night,” added Hurst.

The landscape

The landscaping of the surrounding Sports Precinct has been inspired by the Indigenous six seasons and will incorporate native plants that provide wind and shade protection. 

“A steel framed arbour will link the stadium rail station to the Swan River Pedestrian Bridge,” said Hurst. “The arbour will be partially covered with growing vines, and will provide some shaded walkway across the site.”

A key part of the stadium and sports precinct design includes transport to and from the stadium. In addition to the construction of a new stadium station and upgrade to Perth East station, the design includes the construction of the new Swan River pedestrian bridge. This has been designed to take pressure off Windan Bridge and divert pedestrians away from East Perth's high-density residential area. 

It is hoped the combination of train, bus and pedestrian transport options will reduce visitors’ reliance on cars and shift 50,000 people (83 per cent of crowds) away from the venue within an hour of an event.

The construction process

The stadium design reflects the designers’ extensive consultation with the Joint Football Working Group (comprising the WA Football Commission, West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Football Club and the AFL), cricket, rugby union, rugby league and football (soccer).

Construction will begin in 2014 and the goal is to have the stadium complete in time for the start of the 2018 Australian Football League season.

Key milestones:

  • Pouring of the 1st concrete slab in mid-2015
  • Eight tower cranes in place by end of 2015
  • Seat installation begins early 2016
  • Installation of the unique bronze facade starts early 2016
  • Over 5,700 workers directly employed during construction. Workforce peaks at end of 2016.
  • Grass playing service completed in mid-2017
  • 36 months of construction ending in 2017

Historically the land was an Aboriginal meeting place where the Swan River estuary met the river. Since early settlement, the land had been used as a market garden, Perth’s first golf course, a horse track, a landfill site before returning to being a golf course again.

A pre-construction site works (ground treatment) package commenced in mid-2013, after the environmental and Aboriginal heritage approvals had been obtained by the State Project Team, said Hurst. 

“A key challenge for the ground treatment works contractor involved the insertion of 55,000  vertical wick drains (at 1.2 metre spacing) through the underlying layers of industrial refuse (largely comprising concrete rubble and steel obstructions), and then through the Swan River Alluvium layer to solid ground (the Sandy Channel Deposits),” said Hurst.  

These ground treatment works, which were contracted to the Ertech-Keller Joint Venture, were successfully completed ahead of schedule in March 2014, and enabled the construction site to be ready for handover to the Westadium consortium immediately after the Design Build Finance and Maintain (DBFM) contract award in August 2014.

The contractors

Brookfield Multiplex, the building contractor, is also utilising state-of-the-art Building Information Modelling (BIM),  incorporating 4D (programming) and 5D (cost) aspects into a three dimensional (3D) design of the stadium.

More than 100 contracts for goods and services will be issued as part of the stadium construction. 

The WA State Government chose a Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) procurement model to manage the project. DBFM is a long-term contract, typically 25 years, which enlists a contractor to design, build and maintain the structure, including procurement of finance for the project.


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