Thanks in part to our warm climate and love of the outdoors, the tensile membrane shade-structure market in Australia has continued to thrive, even in the uncertainty of 2020. MakMax Australia has continued to create exciting projects under our core capability pillars; Custom Fabric Structures, Standard/Modular Fabric Structures, and Architectural Umbrellas.
Custom Fabric Structures
High Translucency PTFE & ETFE
Looking back at some of our recent iconic projects, we have highlighted some developing trends in the market. For our custom fabric structures, a key trend we are seeing is the greater push for incorporating higher-translucency fabrics into projects. Architects often want more natural light transmission than PVC can offer, and MakMax Australia has created some striking projects using high translucency PTFE.
Combining high-fashion inspired form, with light, long-lasting function, The Link at Chadstone Shopping Mall in Melbourne is a cathedral-like walkway, covered in a 40% translucency PTFE membrane. The natural light and airy-feel of the high translucency membrane supported by glulam arches, has helped to create a beautiful, iconic and award-winning fabric structure.
The innovative and complex use of alternating translucency fabrics provides a unique higher-translucency shade solution for MakMax Australia’s membrane awnings on the Flynn by Crystalbrook Collection hotel. A striking series of canopies using different geometries, the awnings cover the lower street-facing areas of the hotel, including the pool and the Boardwalk Social restaurant and bar. Combining solid 15% translucency PTFE with a 40% translucency PTFE Mesh in the same structure, helps to create stunning visual light transmission for patrons enjoying the 5-star facilities of the hotel.
The wide use of clear ETFE also highlights the developing trend towards allowing greater natural light into covered areas. A great project example is the Macquarie University Arts Precinct ETFE roof. Designed to allow a large amount of natural light through into the deep atriums, the clear ETFE roof ensures that the ground level plaza spaces feel bright and airy. ETFE’s excellent light transmission and transparency to UV also allows the building to have an indoor garden on the upper mezzanine levels. The Macquarie University Arts Precinct ETFE roof is an incredibly light structure that enhances the other elements of the building, with the air-filled ETFE pillows looking like a floating crown sitting atop the modern architecture.
This Sporting Life
Australians love their sports, and with a growing need for ‘sun smart solutions’ for both spectators and players, MakMax Australia has witnessed a growing trend for membrane shade structures in sport. As premier sports stadiums all over the world seek to create unique and iconic profiles in recent years, so too Australia has embraced the versatility for the architectural design and weather protection that tensile membranes provide. From the stunning world-class ‘halo roof’ on Perth’s Optus Stadium, to the large-span roof canopy over the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide, MakMax Australia has witnessed the capability of lightweight, large-span membrane structures, to transform the landscape of sporting facilities in Australia.
The crowning cap of the Optus Stadium is the ‘halo roof’ that appears to float above the main seating bowl and façade. The use of architectural membrane materials created an ultra-lightweight roof, enabling a lightweight steel frame to be constructed, complimenting the open nature of the stadium. The Optus Stadium roof structure is a continuous fabric roof, free from movement joints and integrated with lighting, PA and other systems. The translucent roof was enhanced using two fabrics – a strong, heavy-duty PTFE, combined with a 40% translucency ePTFE fabric – with the contrasting light transmissions creating a visually exciting texture to the underside of the ‘halo’.
With PTFE fabric panels of up to 18 metres long, the large-span centre court canopy of the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre has become a highly visible part of the Adelaide skyline. MakMax Australia’s 5,800 square metre fabric canopy on the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre protects players on centre court, as well as patrons in the permanent seating and temporary movable seating areas. The canopy also covers the corporate function areas located around the centre court during major tournaments.
Major sporting stadiums are not the only projects turning to membrane structures, with a growing trend in private sporting clubs, in particular lawn bowling clubs, to install a tensile membrane canopy over their playing surfaces. MakMax Australia continues to grow our project portfolio, with bowling clubs from across Australia installing one of our iconic canopies. With three standard designs now pre-engineered and ready to customise, MakMax Australia has constructed canopies from 1,800 square metre single-green canopies, right up to our largest project at Playford Bowling Club in South Australia, an impressive 5,500 square meters and covering three entire bowling greens.
The growth in the bowling green canopy market shows no signs of slowing, and MakMax Australia is now also putting our standard sports canopy designs to good use in school sports projects. Home of the historic Rupertswood Mansion (birthplace of the Ashes Urn), Salesian College Sunbury required weather protection for their multi-sports area and student lockers. The result is a stunning saw-toothed, white PVC membrane canopy, covering the school’s 4 basketball courts. What makes the Salesian College Sunbury sports court canopy unique is its opposing high/low canopy sides. MakMax Australia’s designers and engineers created a lower side to the northwest, the direction of the prevailing winds and the side of most effected by inclement weather approach. The side facing the school was opened by raising the leaning arches to a high point, allowing for additional light in the winter months and increased airflow on hot days.
Creating Unique Architecture
Despite some global cladding issues regarding fire safety, interest in fabric as a façade material remains high and MakMax Australia has realised some great recent projects. Using a PTFE mesh fabric envelope, the James Cook University Ideas Lab façade plays with the idea a simple prosaic building can be transformed in something that is unique and beautiful. The folded building form gives the Ideas Lab a presence in the landscape, while at the same time moderating heat and glare and maximising natural light to the workplaces within. At night, the building is transformed by projecting moving images and colour onto the PTFE façade allowing the Ideas Lab to become a focal point for the University.
Also using differing geometry to create a unique, but highly functional façade, Barker College’s Rosewood Centre makes use of MakMax Australia designed and fabricated skillion PVC awnings to compliment the building’s modern aesthetic. The awnings were constructed with high-translucency PVC fabric to allow for light transmission, maintaining good natural lighting levels within the building but reducing glare and excessive sunlight in the sport and learning areas.
Dining our way out of COVID-19
As Australian cities emerged from COVID lockdowns of various lengths, Australian state governments encouraged safe/socially distanced outdoor gatherings, rather than indoors. This has seen a steady growth in interest in the latter half of 2020 for Architectural Umbrellas for outdoor dining in cafes, restaurants, and pubs.
Keen to provide safe outdoor areas for students, Australian universities have embraced the use of permanent architectural umbrellas, with Monash University in Melbourne, Bond University on the Gold Coast, Macquarie University in Sydney, and Charles Sturt University in Newcastle all recently installing multi-unit umbrella projects.
2021 & Beyond …
Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, MakMax Australia is excited to be working on some major projects, including a large retail ETFE skylight, a number of bowling green canopies, a membrane roof inside a mountain, and an exciting new stadium roof, set to be one of the most visually stunning roof structures in Australia.