Leeds Arena

Precast concrete units supported on a radial steelwork structure

Leeds Arena is the United Kingdom's first purpose built fan shaped arena giving every spectator the perfect view of centre stage. The main facades are rounded and have a domed effect which ends with a flat roof. Formed with two columns, one sloping outwards and the second member spliced to the top and cranked inwards, these curving elevations will be clad with a honeycomb design of glazed panels which will feature a changing kaleidoscope of coloured lights.

The steel framed structure of the roof is supported by a series of 13 trusses spanning up to 70 meters across the auditorium with the five central trusses being supported over the stage area by a 170 tonne trussed girder and plated columns which form the 54m long x 10.5m deep proscenium arch. The proscenium arch truss was delivered to site in 32 separate sections, a total of nine trailor loads. Assembling the truss took three weeks using two large mobile cranes (450t capacity and 500t capacity). We actually had the truss up and connected to its two supporting columns within the first eight hours, however the cranes had to remain in position holding the truss until we had the steel frame to the rear erected as this would give it stability. Erecting the frame took 75 hours of continuous working, day and night. The 13 trusses were assembled in a series of tandem lifts. We assembled and erected one complete roof truss per week, which included installing the connecting beams to adjacent steelwork. The largest of the roof trusses is 72m long with the trusses either side sequentially getting shorter as the arena's shape tapers.

The bowl terraced seating is formed from precast concrete units supported on a radial steelwork structure braced and tied into two main concrete stair cores which provide vertical stability. Acoustic resistance is a major design factor for a venue of this size situated within a City centre and required the structure to be shrouded in a skin of precast concrete wall panels with a concrete roof topping on metal deck. Finally the building structure would be clad in the external honeycomb appearance, this added to the intricate design challenge faced by all of the contractors involved.

A BIM strategy was essential for efficiency

With so many sub contractors providing major elements of the structure that required prefabricated connection to interface on what was to be a complex geometry, it was clear that a BIM strategy was essential for efficiency through the evolving design and collaboration process. The BIM model proved invaluable to all parties involved as it was passed between designers and trades for clash detection and resolution of incomplete design issues, assisting the programming, sequencing and buildability.

 

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Jill Willoughby

Jill Willoughby
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