AAMI Park addresses the primary functional brief for the provision of facilities for hosting world-class rectangular football codes, with spectator seating to be as close to the action as possible, by providing a stadium for rectangular pitch games, including Soccer, Rugby League, Rugby Union and American Football. In addition, the stadium includes an elite training centre with a gymnasium, four-lane 25m lap pool and additional player-recovery facilities, office accommodation for elite sporting teams (including home teams Melbourne Storm and Melbourne Victory), and medical facilities which service the greater Melbourne and Olympic Parks precinct. As a new element of the Melbourne and Olympic Parks sports and entertainment precinct, AAMI Park celebrates its parkland setting and the public nature of the events it presents, taking the form of a highly sculptural piece of which the form follows function. In collaboration with Arup, Cox Architects and Planners has created a design that optimises the performance of the structure. Rather than separate roof, walls and supports, the structure has been designed to serve as each. Termed the ‘bioframe’ for its ability to support various and evolving functions, the structure is a lightweight steel design based on the structural efficiencies of the Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome which uses 50% less steel than a traditional cantilever. Each of the bioframe’s 3D shells use the combination of three structural systems - arch action of the shell, overall arch of the leading edge and cantilever - to produce the lightweight structure. This level of efficiency and the subsequent classic form of the stadium showcase the possibilities of technology and a collaborative approach between architect, engineer and builder. Working with Arup, parametric modelling has allowed refinement of the design to suit the architectural intent, structural requirements and optimisation of each member and connection. Each nodal point has been specifically designed for the load it carries, allowing the stadium’s structure to do more with less. The precision of the steel roof structure and its connection to the concrete bowl has required close co-ordination between all design, fabrication and assembly teams. This collaborative approach has resulted in the optimisation of the stadium’s potential to feature various sustainable attributes. In keeping with the design ethos of doing more with less, the bioframe features a gutter system between the roof panels which allows rainwater to be harvested, the tanks for which are gravity fed. The harvested water is then used to flush the stadium’s toilets and wash the plats. In addition the bioframe is able to integrate other technologies and materials to form a highly considered sculptural piece; LEDs are integrated into the geometry of the bioframe, allowing the stadium to be configured to suit particular events and engage with the Melbourne and Olympic Parks sports precinct. Fundamental to the stadium is the whole-event experience it offers. The major challenge that all stadia face is the competition from television and sports media streaming directly into households. A visit to the stadium must provide a total experience from anticipation to arrival, good circulation and food and beverage facilities, as well as a focus on the event. Consequently, a main principle which drove the form of the bioframe was the desire to provide the perfect seating bowl for patrons. With most seats positioned in the preferred east and west flanks, the structure provides a seating bowl that affords patrons with excellent sightlines and proximity to the action. This, and the minimisation of the roof pile to the north to allow maximum sunlight on to the turf, drove the form of the concrete seating bowl and in turn the bioframe. The engagement with the action on the turf is paramount to AAMI Park providing a unique participatory experience. However the combination of event elements, from anticipation, arrival, circulation, food and beverage, is heightened by the sense of atmosphere that AAMI Park provides. Acoustically engineered for sports mode, it provides an atmosphere to complement the action that takes place on the field, dramatising the spatial and sensory experience for the benefit of players and spectators alike. While the pitch is the focus of the stadium and the spectator experience, the sense of place which is instilled by AAMI Park is also critical. As each of the bioframe’s 3D shells are designed to suit their position around the bowl, the shells are each unique in their form and the relationship that they create with the adjoining landscape This relationship between landscape, stadium and spectator is enhanced by the stadium’s locale. Within walking distance from Melbourne’s CBD, AAMI Park is integrated with existing infrastructure, appearing as a sculptural form along the Yarra River. The stadium is also within walking distance of public transport, and provides bike storage facilities – important aspects for a stadium that seeks to showcase environmentally sustainable design initiatives. As part of the Melbourne and Olympic Parks precinct, the functions of AAMI Park are linked to the precinct, city and parkland, providing a stadium that is easily accessed by spectators and well used by elite players and their clubs, providing Melbourne with a stadium that is functioning every day of the week. Cox Architects and Planners’ realisation of the bioframe, in collaboration with Arup, NDY and Grocon, has allowed a boutique stadium to be created which efficiently encloses the structure of the seating bowl and expresses the sense of theatre that is so important in helping create a great event. Such refinement of the structure has allowed the stadium to take on a particular beauty in its apparent simplicity, forming a classic piece befitting of the ‘less is more approach’. As such AAMI Park continues the strong architectural lineage of Melbourne’s sports and entertainment precinct evidenced since 1956 by the Myer Music Bowl and Olympic Pool Complex, and later by Rod Laver Arena and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It represents a move forward by the city to provide residents and visitors alike with a world-class facility that embodies a pioneering approach to public architecture and in turn public life.


22 photos and 10 drawings

Building Activity

  • Nadezhda Nikolova
    Nadezhda Nikolova updated 40 media and updated
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