The Australian Open is going to be better than ever and it’s not just because of the tennis.
Acoustics play a vital role in helping to create the atmosphere in the sporting arena. They help amplify the crowd, the scream of energy from Sharapova and the click of the ball hitting the court.
The newly redeveloped Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park however posed a number of challenges for the acoustic design team.
The three year construction project saw the transformation of the previous outdoor show court into a 7,500 seat multi-purpose entertainment venue which will be used all year round for tennis, music concerts, netball and basketball.
So what are the requirements for a multi-purpose entertainment venue? Well firstly, it needs to have a lively dynamic atmosphere for sports events and an acoustically dead environment for amplified concerts. Secondly, the construction had to be on time and suspended for three months each year during the process for the Australian Open. And thirdly, it needed to be physically and technically integrated with the existing site.
The most significant redevelopment is the retractable roof, which will protect the world’s best sports people from the sun, heat and rain. This roof is also the fastest retractable roof of its kind in the world, going from open to fully closed in five minutes.
To ensure that this retractable roof wouldn’t affect acoustics, the roof and walls have been lined with thick acoustic insulation. This was designed using cutting edge ray-tracing analysis techniques including the Grasshopper. This also allows for an acoustic barrier made from wheat/rice straw fibres which contain the sound to the venue.
Overall it is sure to be a new and world class experience for tennis and music lovers!