March 10, 2021

The Grand Slam of Engineering


The Australian Open has just drawn to a close. Once again, it gave spectators some of the finest sports entertainment experience in the world, even if some of the days were void of a crowd due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Melbourne Park, one of the country’s premier sports and entertainment venues, hosted this event as it has done for so long, albeit a bit later than usual. It is the only Grand Slam tennis venue with three retracting roof courts allowing games to be played in the event of rain and extreme heat.

Most of us would have been in an arena or a stadium to witness a sporting or entertainment event, but not know that these buildings require architectural and engineering feats to design and build, and to stay up!

Retracking roof

From a structural engineering perspective, these buildings are subject to design criteria not common to all structures. Stadium and arena roofs are unique in a way that a number of them are built with what is called a cantilever roof. Posts or columns at the rear of the seating areas support a roof structure spanning over spectator seats. To keep the spectator’s view clear, the roof structure is only supported from the rear of the seats.

This kind of roof structure, being long and light, is very dynamic, which means it reacts and vibrates as wind blows at and over it. Careful attention is given by design engineers to ensure this kind of roof can hold up against the wind without moving too much.

Seating Decks

Another unique challenge in stadium and arena design has to do with the seating decks. Spectators in these buildings often do rhythmic chants, jumping and other coordinated activities when influenced by music, celebrating and similar emotional events.

Under the right (or rather wrong) conditions, these activities can cause decks to shake violently which may endanger the crowd by causing crowd panic and/or structural collapse. The link below shows how German fans got a stadium bouncing during their relegation playoff match.

Fans shake stadium foundation

The design engineers carefully consider forced vibrations when designing stadiums and arenas.

Our Bread & Butter

At Yenem Engineering Services, we don’t design stadiums (tho’ I reckon we’d do a fantastic job!)

We focus mainly on mining structures. Some have large cantilevers – like stackers that span 40 metres or more and deliver lithium, iron ore and other valuable commodities to keep WA and in fact, Australia going. We deal with vibration too — 50-tonne crushers that crush 2-metre rocks into rubble, and screens that shake violently on our structures that we make sure don’t shake much at all.

Structural resonance caused by a vibratory machine

This requires engineering excellence in design and consideration of many loads and combinations of loads to ensure the structures perform perfectly throughout their design lifetime, minimising unnecessary shutdowns and also providing a safe working environment for the few plant operators involved.

Sure, it’s not all glamour and glitz, and we don’t get to light up our structures with LED lights and show them off in cities, but man it’s rewarding all the same!

What We Offer

To learn more about us and the engineering services that we offer, click the button below to get a PDF version of our Capability Statement.

Have a Project that You Want to Discuss?

Book a meeting with us and we will assist you with the structural design and analysis of your structure to help you produce a structure that is fit-for-purpose and capable of resisting all applied loads without failure during its intended life.

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