Stage Spectacular

 10 Jun 2014

For thousands of years arenas have been a key element in a city’s landscape and urban life (think Rome’s Colosseum) and it’s no different now – only some modern arenas are more striking than others.

In functional terms little has changed over millennia, only in the contemporary era such places are still designed to satisfy society’s sporting and entertainment needs, but thankfully gladiatorial fights to the death are no longer deemed suitable public spectacles.

A striking new piece of sculptural architecture, designed to look different from every angle, Perth Arena is supremely worthy of the public spectacles staged inside.

Perth Arena, inspired in part by the 209 irregular-shaped pieces of Christopher Monckton’s Eternity Puzzle, is beyond simply being prominent and arresting. It is – as its architects ARM architecture, are now famous for delivering – a surprising, idiosyncratic and highly distinctive structure.

According to design director Howard Raggart, this “landmark building has been designed to provoke symbolic interpretation.” It was also designed to “create direct visual responses from all approaches, and become an integral part of the city’s overall urban design and architectural strategy,” he adds.

In other words this is a building calculated to stimulate thought. It was also designed to look different from every angle and to be an important public amenity that will inject a key architectural and visual element in Perth’s urban landscape.

It is designed to seat 15,000 spectators, with 36 VIP boxes, five multipurpose event rooms, enough food and beverage outlets to satisfy the hungry and thirsty hordes, a 700-space basement car park and a roof that can be opened and closed in seven minutes flat.

And if need be the space can be reconfigured for a more intimate event seating around 3000 people.

The inside is as equally eye-catching as the outside, and the luminous Yves Klein blue façade continues through an interior which is characterised by vast, light spaces and warm timber panelling.

What public visitors don’t see meanwhile is also a very carefully considered back-of-house environment calculated to create a welcoming, comfortable and efficient place to support and to enhance the smooth and professional staging of any number of large and complex entertainment and sporting events.

“Zip HydroTap is state- of-the-art… I’ve been very happy with the after-sales service.”

Taking a lead from the vivid colours of the building itself there are bright kitchens, breakout areas and self-service refreshment spaces servicing both the staff and the dressing room areas for the visiting performers, athletes and stars.

Apparently the very first very special guest to use the bright yellow kitchen attached to the stars’ dressing room areas – with its Zip HydroTap providing boiled and chilled filtered water on call – was international superstar Elton John.

The Zip HydroTap was chosen, says Andrea Wilson, interior architect at ARM Architecture, because it is “State-of-the-art. They are reliable and they suit a broad cross section of users,” she says. “I have specified them for a very long time and I’ve been very happy with the after- sales service.”

The Zip HydroTap has also been fitted in line with an overriding concern to make sustainable features an element of the total design. Further innovations on this score include mixed mode natural ventilation to the public concourses; a special displacement air conditioning system that keeps patrons cool but reduces energy; photovoltaic (solar) panels on the roof; locally sourced materials and a water-sensitive landscape design.
"Article taken from Boiling Point issue no. 22, published by the Indesign Media Asia Pacific."