Blight Rayner Architects initially approached MakMax Australia with a challenge to design and develop a variable shade concept for St Margaret’s Anglican School in Brisbane. Well known for our extensive portfolio of tensile membrane fabric structures for schools, universities and learning centres, we generally work in fixed tensile structures. The brief for the shade cover over the pool at St Margaret’s was to optimise the operational costs and seasonal flexibility by controlling the levels of sunshine onto the pool’s surface. This was to be achieved with a series of motorised mesh fabric panels that could open and close at the push of a button.
Intended to be used as sun protection while students are using the pool, the 40m x 30m space is covered by a structural grid of cables spaced at approx. 2.5m apart, which in turn support 4 opposing pairs of (10m x 15m) fully motorised fabric shade sections. The opposing panels close from the outside, meeting in the centre.
The MakMax Velarium Variable Shade System at St Margaret’s allows the 4 sets of fabric panels to operated with push-button controls. They can be manipulated as a whole or in individual sections, allowing for different parts of the pool area to be covered or open to the sky.
With safety at the forefront of design for MakMax’s education sector projects, the St Margaret’s pool roof has been engineered to withstand wind gusts of up to 125km/hr while closed, however it features a fail-safe function of automatically retracting when wind speeds rise about 27km/hr, protecting the fabric and the cabling.
Soltis FT381 from Serge Ferrari was chosen for the retracting roof panels. Lightweight, durable and flexible, Soltis FT381 is a high translucency PVC mesh material that allows natural light to enter, while protecting swimmers and spectators against harmful UV rays.
Completing the project’s low-impact visuals, the fabric panels are supported by 12mm structural cables, and the roof retraction is made possible by four 0.75kW (IP55) Electric Motors hidden in the upper steel structure. Each panel section spans 4 or 5 cables and has a leading-edge extrusion with nylon runners that attach to the main cables.
The roof support-system is designed for minimal maintenance by combining corrosion resistant aluminium battens with a robust stainless-steel cable-supported operating system.
The MakMax Australia engineering team relish design challenges like this. Being designer-builders, we had the ability to design, test, check and refine our ideas to ensure what came to site would work first time. Complexities of high cable loads, precambering of steelwork and specific erection sequences were all coordinated with the head contractor and our partner subbies. Our extensive education experience means the design always progressed to best meet the schools needs and operational requirements.
The result of the project is the MakMax Velarium Variable Shade System, which can now be customised and adapted to suit future projects.