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8 December 2015

Chadstone is the name of Australia's “fashion capital” in Melbourne’s suburbs. It is the largest shopping centre on the Australian continent and also the one with the biggest sales. There are 530 stores, cinemas and many other attractions to entice visitors. Regular modernisation and extension projects increase the appeal yet further. Currently, British architectural practice RTKL and Atelier One Engineers are adding thousands of square metres of retailing space to the centre. That project also includes the construction of an exiting steel-and-glass roof, a total area of 7,080sqm, for which seele was awarded the contract.

Two key features of the design are its open style, with a gallery-type second floor, and the high, dome-like glass roof that allows plenty of daylight to reach both floors. The glass roof has to follow the line of the shopping malls below and so the result is a free-form gridshell spanning up to 35m, in varying shapes, geometries and a dramatic pitch at the centre.

Furthermore, to comply with the architects’ requirements, 95% of the panes of glass turned out to be trapezoidal, which results in non-planar supports for the glass on its steel frame. More than 2,600 panes of ISO insulating glass therefore have to be bent by up to 50mm on the building site in Melbourne in order to match the geometry of the steel structure. The challenge of this task increases as the pane size gets smaller. Advance testing is being carried out by seele in order to perfect its method for cold-bending the panes of ISO insulating glass and thus create the best conditions for trouble-free erection on site.

Melbourne’s climate was another factor seele had to consider: with a glass roof that is in places up to 140m long, the high temperatures possible in this city can lead to deformations of up to 135mm in the glass roof. It is therefore vital that the supports for the glass roof not only withstand the high loads of the glass roof, but also accommodate the very considerable deformations caused by temperature fluctuations.

Tight schedule presents another challenge in the Chadstone project: less than 12 months for design, fabrication planning and production followed by just eight further months for the erection of the steel-and-glass roof with its 2,600+ ISO insulating glass panes (all with different shapes and dimensions). One essential factor that is helping seele to stay on schedule is the company’s production-based approach. In less than six months, 2,810 steel nodes, 5,168 frame members made from four different welded section types and 54 curved edge beams more than 10m long will be produced and delivered to that continent on the other side of the world.

Owing to its dimensions and form, the specification to meet the local requirements and the logistics challenges, the free-form roof for Australia’s largest retail complex has a very important place among the projects in which seele has participated. So the Chadstone roof is yet another structure that demonstrates the wealth of skills available within seele.

Scope of seele supply:

  • Design, fabrication planning and erection of free-form steel-and-glass gridshell in with a total area of 7,080sqm.
  • Steel structure with a total tonnage of approx. 500t
  • 2,810 steel nodes
  • 5,168 frame members
  • 54 edge beams
  • 2,671 panes of ISO insulating glass with areas between 1.2 and almost 8sqm
  • 95% in various trapezoidal shapes
  • otherwise square, rectangular or triangular