• Perth’s Legacy Build

    29 May 2018

    One of the world’s best new multi-purpose stadiums, Optus Stadium takes the lead in changing public attitudes and, perhaps, the construction industry

    It’s a piece of statement architecture that has been built to serve the Western Australian public and revive Perth as a tourism destination, but the city’s new 60,000-seat Stadium is also a deeply transformative project.

    When the doors to the multi-use facility were opened on 21 January this year, there was little about the bronzed aluminium façade, soaring fabric canopy or extensive landscaped surrounds that would have reminded Western Australians of the Burswood public golf course that the Stadium replaced, or the toxic landfill that was there before it, or even of its original use as an Aboriginal meeting place.

    The Burswood Peninsula on which the Stadium and surrounding Park sits, is central to the former WA State Government’s plans to redevelop the area. The Stadium precinct and other nearby sporting and leisure facilities are just under three kilometres by car from the heart of the Central Business District.

    Proximity to the city was important in choosing the Stadium site; there are grand views across the Swan River, public transport connections were established, and pedestrians and cyclists have easy access to the area. Access to the stadium is almost exclusively by rail, bus, bike or foot, with private vehicles discouraged.

    In one of the least densely developed cities on earth, with spacious housing on large blocks of land considered the norm, convincing people to leave their cars at home has been a significant cultural and environmental shift.

    The design by Hassell, Cox Architecture and HKS Sport and Entertainment is a six-level, five tiered, steel and concrete structure with a Colosseum-style seating bowl that can be expanded to 70,000 seats within the existing structure. A fabric roof covers 85 percent of the seats.

    A design-build-finance-maintain (DBFM) contract was awarded to the Westadium consortium led by Multiplex (design and construction), John Laing (equity investor and asset management) and BGIS (facilities management) in July 2014. The contract has a 25-year operating period.

    Work to rehabilitate the site began a year earlier. Some 55,000 wick drains and 740,000 tonnes of sand were used to improve the stability of the soil profile. By December 2014, Multiplex had control of the site and the completed stadium and surrounding Park was delivered three years later.

    Multiplex Design Manager Paul Muggeridge says delivering the stadium, one of the biggest public-private partnerships in Western Australia, within a three-year window was a massive achievement. “It was such a tough delivery schedule on such a big build that it really came down to the programme,” he told The Lighthouse magazine. “The stadium design and build achieved technical completion in November and was handed over to the State Government three weeks ahead of programme. This is a tremendous achievement for all involved. It has been truly rewarding to see Optus Stadium come alive and delivered for the people of Perth.”

    Multiplex has its foundations in Perth and a track record stretching back more than 55 years. It has been involved in some iconic design and build contracts, including the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, the West Stand at Chelsea Football Club and the construction of the redeveloped Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, which is often said to be one of the world’s best rectangular stadia.

    As the lead contractor for the Stadium project, Multiplex created a logistics team to coordinate the day-to-day works and major deliveries, which involved more than 500 vehicles a day at its peak. The project involved more than 15,000 tonnes of structural steel and 52,000 cubic metres of concrete, enough to fill 21 Olympicsized swimming pools. A flood-prone and silt-heavy site, layered with landfill, meant more than 2,600 concrete piles were driven up to 36 metres into the sediment. At the peak of construction, 18 cranes were in use, including eight tower cranes.

    Technology was essential to deliver a high-specification build in such a compressed timeframe. Building Information Modelling (BIM) was used in clash detection, documentation reviews and progress tracking. Multiplex delivered a BIM model to LOD (Level of Development) 500, meaning the modelling was “as-built”.

    That level of technology extends across the stadium:

    • at the eastern and western flanks are two 340-square-metre video screens that are currently the biggest in the southern hemisphere;
    • more than 1,000 television monitors are located throughout the building;
    • future-proof mobile connectivity allows stutter-free, highresolution streaming;
    • there are more than 1,400 Wi-Fi access points; and
    • more than 1.7 kilometres of LED lighting is in place, making the Stadium the world’s biggest LED installation in an arena.

    In all, the Stadium is said to have the best sightlines, technology and the most comfortable facilities in a multi-purpose stadium. The watchword here was to create a “fans-first” experience. But the re-use of degraded land as a centrepiece for a new type of lower carbon living also signals a change for the people of Perth.

    Similarly, for the construction industry, Mr Muggeridge believes it signals a new level of maturity. “I think a high-quality build such as this begins to shift the focus from the mining construction that Western Australia is better known for,” he says. “To have the stadium completed on time and to such acclaim is part of creating a legacy for Perth.”

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