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Perth Arena – The Perth Arena is an iconic building which creates a new urban destination and a catalyst for renewal in an under-valued part of central Perth.

Perth Arena is an entertainment and sporting arena in the city centre of Perth, Western Australia. The project was a joint venture between ARM Architecture & Cameron Chisholm Nicol. With its design based on the Eternity puzzle, the venue will hold up to 13,910 spectators for tennis events, 14,846 for basketball and a maximum of 15,500 for concerts. The venue has a retractable roof, 36 luxury appointed corporate suites, a 680-bay underground car park, 5 dedicated function spaces, and touring trucks can drive directly onto the arena floor.

Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-06-Perth-Arena-759x505 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Perth Arena

  • One of Australia’s most complex and technically challenging construction projects, the design was a joint venture between architects Cameron Chisholm Nicol (CCN Group) and ARM. The Arena is the new home of the National Basketball League team the Perth Wildcats, and will host the annual Hopman Cup tennis tournament. Its flexible configuration modes can accommodate audiences of up to 15 500 people and it features state-of-the-art acoustics and staging.
  • Perth Arena is one of the most complex steel building constructions undertaken in Australia. Since opening last November, the Perth Arena has lived up to its billing as a world-class sporting and entertainment venue befitting the city’s international status. As Sean McGowan reports, a sustainable approach to mechanical services has delivered an outstanding indoor environment, no matter the event.
  • Perth Arena’s design is bold, imaginative, unique and unmistakeable, the arena holds large internal spaces and thoroughfares, designed to excite and engage patrons from the moment they step inside. It is one of the most complex steel building constructions in Australia.
  • Perth Arena is Western Australia’s landmark, iconic entertainment venue. The 15,500 capacity arena is a premium destination for live entertainment, music and sport and was officially opened on the 10th of November 2012.
Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-07-CCN-Group-759x263 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© CCN Group

With timber-lined concourses, multiple bar and concession options, views to the CBD and multimedia infotainment, the facility offers levels of patron experience previously not known in this type of venue. Attracting international performers and events and bringing more people into the city, the Arena is a vibrant addition to Perth’s cultural and architectural landscape.

Located on Wellington St in Perth’s CBD, the Perth Arena completes the first stage of the Perth City Link – a 13.5 hectare urban renewal project that will reconnect the city centre with Northbridge for the first time in more than 100 years.

Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-09-John-Gollings-759x506 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© John Gollings


  • Designed for multiple uses, including international sporting events such as the Hopman Cup, as well as music concerts, Perth Arena takes the place of the temporary Burswood Dome and before that, the Perth Entertainment Centre, which stood adjacent to the site until it was demolished in 2011.
  • Since opening with back-to-back events last November – including a packed house to see pop music icon Sir Elton John – more than 175,000 people have passed through its doors during the first six months of operation.
  • The architectural vision is bold, based on the Eternity puzzle and inspired by the state’s oldest building, the 12-sided Round House in Fremantle. As such, the design is conceived to look different from every angle.
  • Behind the striking façade, the design responds to the ambitious yet functional brief aimed at maximising the building’s commercial potential.
  • Coupled with the Western Australian government’s desire for a sustainable facility, the brief led to many innovative service solutions that were made all the more challenging by a retractable roof.
  • It is one of the most complex steel building constructions undertaken in Australia. It features more than 225,000 individual steel pieces, weighing some 7,000 tonnes.
Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-11-Travis-Hayto-Outer-Bounds-Photography Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Travis Hayto-Outer Bounds Photography

  • The building’s shape, with its positives and negatives created by the solid geometric forms joined by glass in-fills, has been designed to break down the size of the facility, which covers 31,645 sq m and stands 50m above ground at its tallest point.
  • More than 10,000 triangular and rectangular Alucobond panels make up the façade. The striking Yves Klein blue that welcomes patrons at the main entrance is continued within the interior space, complemented by natural timber panelling and highlights of red, orange and yellow.
  • Internally, the space’s design and function continue to take cues from the puzzle, with a myriad of configurations available to suit a variety of purposes.
  • Although it has a capped capacity of 15,500 patrons for concerts, an innovative flexible curtaining system allows the arena to be reduced in capacity to as few as 3,400 in Lyric Mode (quarter house).
  • Other configurations include tennis (13,300 patrons), “in the round” (15,500 patrons), “half house” (6,800 patrons) and basketball and netball (14,300 patrons).
  • Approximately 35m above the arena’s floor level, a retractable roof allows for events to be held in natural light, or under the stars. Driven by eight motorised units on rails, the two roof panels are able to open or close in about seven minutes.
Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-19-CCN-Group-759x958 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© CCN Group

Concept and design:

  • The Arena brief was for a building which conveys the culture and identity of Perth, and of Western Australia as a whole, in a unique and an exciting way. Inspiration began at the state’s oldest public building, the 12-sided Round House in Fremantle, which was built in 1831. From there, the design adopted the visual metaphor of a giant puzzle, where each piece represents a part of a bigger whole: a city, a state, a collective of people, places and ideas.
  • The building’s puzzle-like envelope is the casing around the Arena ‘machine’ – a group of highly-specialised systems that deliver optimum functionality, flexibility and environmental performance.
  • The design is conceived to look different from every angle. In a practical sense, this helps to visually break down the scale of the structure and assist in orientation around the building.
  • A key feature is the 500 tonne retractable roof. Driven by eight motorised units on rails, the roof’s two halves open to an area of 56m x 35m in under 10 minutes. This allows events such as the Hopman Cup to be naturally lit, facilitates the escape of heat from inside the bowl, and achieves acoustic separation.
Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-21-John-Gollings-759x506 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© John Gollings


  • The dramatic interior of the building, which has four freestanding bars, five function areas and seven concessions, shares the visual language of the exterior. Each area expresses an individual identity through its unique spatial qualities, colour and finishes. Vivid ‘arena blue’ plywood panelling is offset by warm timber, with red, yellow and orange highlights. Featured materials include blackbutt, anodised alum- inium and Kimberley black granite.
  • The building entertains with layers of hidden messages and meanings, and with optical illusions that alter perceptions of space and scale. The ‘super graphics’ and sculptural pipework which appear inside and out are derived from anamorphic projections.
Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-38-Perth-Arena-800x1200 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Perth Arena

Operating modes:

The arena has flexible configuration modes to accommodate a wide range of events and audience numbers. A stage at the northern end caters for large concerts, whilst a curtain system allows sections of the arena to be partitioned off to create smaller spaces for more intimate events. Floor and retractable seating can be employed in centre stage and sport mode. A permanent tennis court is covered with an interlocking basket-ball court during the Basketball League season, and the venue has broadcast-quality lighting.

Sustainability initiatives:

Ambitious sustainability objectives for the Perth Arena will result in one of the most energy-efficient, sustainable buildings of its genre.

Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-50-Duncan-Barnes-759x505 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Duncan Barnes

Air conditioning :

The air supply within the bowl is based on an air displacement system. Temperature-controlled air at low velocity is delivered through slots beneath the seats. This directed approach, which cools only occupied zones, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the HVAC system by 60% when compared to a mixed overhead system. All air is drawn fresh from outside rather than recirculated.

To reduce energy costs further, the concourse areas are conditioned using mixed-mode systems. High- and low- level louvres will be activated when ambient temperatures permit, to allow natural concourse ventilation. The louvres will automatically adjust in response to temperature, wind and humidity. Conditioned air can be diverted from the bowl when needed ie during intervals and before/after events, to ensure the concourses remain comfortable at all times.

Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-52-Duncan-Barnes-759x505 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Duncan Barnes

Solar power:

The Arena has one of the largest roofmounted photovoltaic arrays in Western Australia. This can supply most of the base load power reqirements for the basement carpark.

Other resource-efficient initiatives:

  • AAA-rated hydraulic fixtures throughout
  • Waterless urinals
  • Low-energy fluorescent house lighting in the bowl
  • Large areas of glazing for natural lighting to public areas
  • Materials/finishes selected in response to durability/lifecyclecosting and low VOC criteria

Roof structure:

The roof structure comprises two 130m-long ‘mega trusses’ spaced at 38m and braced together to support the two halves of the retractable roof. Using the heavy lift method meant that the cladding, retractable roof mechanism and plant room steelwork could all be installed and tested on the ground.

The 2,150t roof truss was lifted 50mm off the ground the day before the main lift and left suspended overnight to check the foundations, towers and roof structures. The truss was then lifted 22m in three hours using the VSL SLU 580 jacks, which were supplied by EHPS 2/65 pumps at a rate of 65 litres/minute. All eight lifting jacks were synchronised via the control room on the ground using a computerised BRAVO level control and monitoring system. To ensure a 50mm out-of- level tolerance.

  • Two 10 metre high, 130 metre long ‘mega trusses’, weighing approximately 400 tonnes each, have been constructed to support the arena’s retractable roof. These ‘mega trusses’, which took nine months to complete, are surrounded by specialised precast panels supplied by Paragon Precast and also reinforced by ARC steel.
  • The sliding roof has been incorporated to accommodate the Hoffman Cup; a world class tennis event played in Western Australia as a lead into the Australian Open.
Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-60-Carol-Darby Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Carol Darby

ARM architecture

The Perth Arena is perhaps like the ancient Greek myth of the Trojan Horse – an object of desire, dragged into great triumph and allowed to bring its rampage of entertainment with it. With up to 15,000 seats, an operable roof for sporting matches, 36 VIP super boxes, five major multi-purpose event rooms, half a dozen food and beverage outlets and a 700-space basement car park, the Perth Arena becomes a stand-alone entertainment extravaganza for the city.

Perth Arena features a retractable roof that can open in seven minutes allowing natural light to flood the centre court. It also features five multi-purpose event rooms, half a dozen food and beverage outlets, state of the art acoustics, function spaces, corporate hospitality suites, cafes and a basement car park. The stadium has a very flexible design, allowing for crowds of up to 15,500 in general admission concert mode and up to 14,000 in tennis mode. Alternatively, the arena can be closed down for an intimate concert with 3000 people.

The striking design was inspired by the 12-sided Round House in Fremantle and the 209 irregular shaped pieces of Christopher Monckton’s Eternity Puzzle.


Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-67-CCN-Group-759x476 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© CCN Group

Our architectural strategy was simple: provide a core multi-functional arena without compromise and then surround it with variable circulation and a striking configuration. Most venues of this type provide continuous repetitive spaces around the core function. We have explored this building typology another way. Instead of a singular facade we have created extreme variability, giving the building a different face from every angle. Whether approaching from the elevated freeway to the west, the grand boulevard to the south, the railway lines on the north or new urban developments to the east, every facade presents a new dynamic. It is the interior, and especially the entrance and great public concourses, that best express our vision for the building. Instead of a brutally unimaginative interior, Perth Arena is inspired by the whole experience of a public building, and especially the experience of looking out to the city.

Achieving sustainability best practice was a key brief requirement of this project and was addressed by early stakeholder engagement to agree on the key sustainability features to be adopted. Sustainable features include mixed mode natural ventilation to public concourses, low energy displacement air conditioning system (providing a 109kw saving 150T/Co2 PA), photo voltaic (solar) array on the roof, WELLS-rated fixtures and fittings and waterless urinals, locally sourced materials (e.g. West Australian granite for the entry foyers) and a water sensitive landscape design.

Displacement air conditioning for the bowl, which delivers low velocity air directly to patrons through a seating plenum, rather than the more traditional but less efficient top down approach, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the HVAC system by 60%, when compared to a mixed overhead system. This is equal to 180T reduction of Co2/yr.

Mixed-mode concourse air conditioning controlled by the building automation system is estimated to save an additional 127 tonnes of Co2 emissions annually. It features mixed mode concourse ventilation, controlled natural ventilation, and “top up” mode (spill air from bowl diverted to concourse).

ARM and CCN provided advice to the client on artist selection and were involved in reviews of the final design. Six years in the making, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s ‘Totem’ draws on sophisticated robotics and schoolyard origami to make a memorable piece of public art. Its moving panels are programmed to open and close like flower petals in response to people walking past and it shoots geometric laser projections onto the wall of the Arena at night. ‘Totem’ has affectionately become known as the ‘Perth Pineapple’.

Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-72-Peter-Bennetts-759x506 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Peter Bennetts

CCN Group

The Perth Arena is a striking architectural statement which creates a new urban destination and a catalyst for renewal in an under-valued part of the CBD. Its bold, puzzle-inspired exterior and graphic combination of color and materials reflect its role as Perth’s premier venue for large-scale sport and entertainment events.The Arena has superior acoustics and a flexible configuration which can accommodate up to 15,500 patrons. Displacement air-conditioning and the state’s largest array of solar panels deliver energy-efficiency. A retractable roof allows the Arena to open to the sky.

Perth-Arena-By-ARM-architecture-CCN-Group-77-Duncan-Barnes-759x505 Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group

© Duncan Barnes

Project Data:

Project name: Perth Arena
Location: 700 Wellington St, Perth, Western Australia 6000
Coordinates: -31.948275,115.851933
Type: Arena
Materials: Steel, ALUCOBOND® Plus in Colours Custom Colour Arena Blue, Cream, Black, Custom Colour Sparkling White and Silver Metallic

  • Basketball / netball: 14,846
  • Tennis: 13,910
  • Full capacity: 15,500

Project Area: 28,300 sqm
Project Year: 2007-2012
Status: Built
Opening Date: 10 November 2012
Cost: $550 million
Completion Year: 2012
Visit Perth Arena’s website: here


  • 2013 – World Architecture Festival Award – Category: Culture & Sport – Shortlisted
  • 2013 – Australian Institute of Architects Awards – WA (Western Australian) Architecture Awards – George Temple Poole Award, Jeffrey Howlett Award for Public Architecture, Interior Architecture Awards, Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: VenuesWest, Government of Western Australia Office Of Strategic Projects Australia

  • ARM architecture – Level 11/ 522 Flinders Lane Melbourne 3000 Australia
  • CCN Group – Level 3, Sheffield House 713 Hay Street Perth Western Australia 6000

Design Architects: Andrew Lilleyman, Jeremy Stewart, Jonothan Cowle
Interior Design: Andrea Wilson, Jacqueline Cunningham
Project Team: Luke Davey, Beata Szulc, Jonathan Davis, Greg Stretch, Doug Dickson, Michael Edmonds, Ian Surtees, Deborah Binet, Steve Christie
Project Director: Stephen Ashton
Jv Director: Dominic Snellgrove
Design Director: Howard Raggatt
Project Architects: Stephen Davies, Peter Keleman
Senior Team Leader: Steve Christie
Project manager: Appian group
Acoustics engineer: AECOM
Contractor: BGC Construction WA
Lighting engineer: WSP Vision design
Mechanical and electrical engineer:  WSP group
Sustainability engineer: WSP Built Ecology
Mchanical services contractor: Desair/Siganto & Stacey
Arena Consultants: RTKL Associates Inc
Building Services: WSP Group
Civil Engineer: Wood & Grieve
Environmental Engineer: WSP Group
Landscape Architect: Urbis
Structural Engineer: Aurecon
Text Description: © Courtesy of Perth Arena, ARM architecture, CCN Group,
Images: © ARM architecture, CCN Group, Greg Hocking, Peter Bennetts, John Gollings, Carol Darby, Perth Arena, Duncan Barnes, Travis Hayto-Outer Bounds Photography

Materials & Suplier:

Attenuators: Fantech
AHUs: Carrier
BMS: Honeywell
Boilers: Laars
Cental chilled water plant: Carrier
Cooling Towers: B.A.C.
Fans: Fantech
FCUs: Carrier
Pumps: grundfos

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Perth Arena / ARM architecture + CCN Group
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