Scott Rathie

Innovation:
Pandanus-inspired stadium

Senior Structural Engineer, Arup; BEng Hons (Structural), University of Queensland; Member of Engineers Australia; Chartered Engineer

Townsville's Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Working with Cox Architecture to develop an winning concept for the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, Arup Senior Structural Engineer Scott Rathie CPEng created an innovative roof framing system that was inspired by the leaf of the pandanus tree, a plant synonymous with North Queensland.

In nature, the pandanus leaf has two geometries: its pre-buckled form and a post-buckled one.

To understand the limitations and opportunities of the
post-buckled form, Rathie folded a variety of origami models with simple crease patterns.

Without lateral restraint, the folded form could either flatten out or fold with the two outer vertices moving relative to each other.

The stadium was successfully designed and constructed with the innovative pandanus roof and kites, giving the completed work a distinctive tropical character.

Without lateral restraint, the folded form could either flatten out or fold with the two outer vertices moving relative to each other.

Rathie quickly realised, however, that a viable and efficient structure with the desired pandanus form could be created if these vertices were restrained to the seating bowl with fl y-braces.

This solution cleverly avoided the need for horizontal ties on the outside of the roof, which then provided the opportunity to clad the roof backstays to create the stadium’s emblematic “kites”.

These pandanus kites consist of stressed PVC fabric that provides visual enclosure and shading to the stadium concourse.

Rathie’s parametric script for the innovative roof system embodies the architectural intent.

The stadium was successfully designed and constructed with the innovative pandanus roof and kites, giving the completed work a distinctive tropical character.

The design and construction of the project also provided substantial stimulus to the North Queensland economy, with the project taking advantage of the skills and capabilities of local suppliers; more than 80 per cent of the contracts awarded went to North Queensland firms.

Rathie’s design was an innovative one that delivered on the promise of the competition-winning architectural concept, and was also structurally efficient, elegant and buildable.

Judges’ comments:

“I like how the applicant has drawn inspiration from nature and origami to come up with a novel concept and then worked through the engineering challenges to realise it.

“This is an excellent example of engineering finding technical solutions to support an architectural vision.”

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