Temporary Shade Structure for Australian Open Festival

Temporary Shade Structure for Australian Open Festival


Project specifications

A short timeline, a specific engineering requirement and the need for a visually beautiful solution all formed part of this challenging 2,500 square metre Australian Open Festival shade structure brief.

Unique challenges

There were two significantly complex requirements for this project; the timeframes and the type of ballast. 

In order to design, engineer, manufacturer and install within 11 weeks, we had to start manufacturing steel and fabric prior to finalisation and sign off. This required an extensive design process with a versatile system that could be adjusted as the process went on.

The short installation timeframe of six days meant we had to find a design balance between large structural membersand quick installation methods.

The site of this project was on council land, and so we could not excavate or pour footings. This meant, despite the 2,500 square metre scale of the project, infrastructure had to be held in place by temporary ballast blocks.


We developed a very fast installation mechanism utilising truss and pin connections. We also designed a perimeter of the sails of a cable grid to reduce infrastructure and to save installation time.

To achieve the time frame of installation with six days we required two cranes, four boom lifts, two forklifts and a crew of 23 people. All these were coordinated on site amongst 11 other applications being installed at the same time. 

We also had to engineer this structure at a minimum height of 12m to clear the site lines of the stage. This required some extensive engineering analysis to make sure that the structure could withstand massive wind loads at height.

We had six semi-trailer loads of custom concrete ballast. To manage the extreme loads on some of the cables, we developed an anti-skid mechanism for the ballast blocks.


The result of this project was a huge, flamboyant temporary shade structure that really wowed the Melbourne skyline. 

It provided excellent coverage for the extreme heat and increased the public numbers watching the event, which in turn gave the client a much larger revenue for that area.

The structure is also reusable, meaning it will be used for future festivals.

Location: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Client: Australian Open Festival
Sector: Sports, Staging