Stunning glulam beams add awe to a world class sports arena

Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre was envisioned to be an iconic sports arena attracting international athletes from all over the world and local families. Since its opening in March 2016, the facility has received over 2,500 visits a day, exceeding expectations. 

The facility also sets a new standard of using wood in architecture, featuring the world’s longest span timber catenary roof ever built. The undulating roof form pushes the limits of wood as a structural element, highlighting its potential as a cost-effective, structurally-efficient, and aesthetically-pleasing building material.



These roof undulations meant that a dive tower and a water slide could be accommodated. It created natural high points at opposite ends of the building. The suspended wood ‘cables’ hang between concrete buttresses, at each end, braced at mid-span by a central, concrete V-column. The extremely slender roof curves to clear the tall height requirements at each end, while reducing the building volume at lower points over the swim areas in the middle. 

This innovative adoption of timber in tension permitted a structural depth of just 300mm for a 55m span, defying convention. The building volume created by the suspended roof is 20 per cent less than that of the truss roof, making it that much more efficient to heat and cool.

Grandview Heights was shorlisted for the WAN Wood in Architecture Awards 2016. Updated from a previous article posted on October 26, 2016.

Images: HCMA Architecture + Design