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Items of news of general interest to those in the industry - both in Australasia and Overseas. It may include aspects of Architecture, Innovative design, new products or issues of interest or that might impact on our niche industry.  The most recently added article appears first.

It is believed that the emphasis on the provision of Olympic class sporting venues has been adjusted in time for the Brisbane 2032 event owing to major cost overruns in previous Olympics.

Perhaps the best place to follow the development progress of the Brisbane Venues is at the Queensland State Development and Infrastructure website and a less formal site q2032.au

One thrust is to upgrade existing facilities for the Olympics in 2032 and then return them in a format suitable for ongoing community use.

A review of the major Gabba Stadium has suggested "modest enhancements"

Aside from the Gabba, a number of other venues that utilize lightweight structure architecture exist - and several of these have had major input from LSAA Members.

Located on the beautiful Gold Coast, Cbus Super Stadium is a world class rectangular stadium featuring a premium playing surface suitable for rugby union, rugby league or football events and training. This was previously known as the Robina stadium


The Gold Coast Sports Precinct served as the signature venue precinct for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, hosting the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, athletics, badminton, weightlifting, powerlifting and wrestling. LSAA knows this as the Metricon Stadium


The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Stadium is a FIFA accredited state-of-the-art sports field located at the university’s Kelvin Grove campus in Brisbane. The roof-level is home to a FIFA accredited sports field, developed as part of the long-term expansion plans for the University. This venue has been entered to our 2018 LSAA Design Awards



With 30,000 seats (25,000 permanent and 5,000 temporary), 36,000 capacity for large concerts all under the cover of a roof, Te Kaha is New Zealand's premier and most accessible, inclusive, sustainable and flexible stadium venue.

Following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch the city has been rebuilding and a redesigned larger flexible stadium is a key project. The stadium hopes to attract key events that might otherwise bypass Christchurch.

There are some articles on "The Stadium Business" website as well as a dedicated stadium website

An update video is also on YouTube

An independent review of the Brisbane Olympics Infrastructure requirements has commenced.

Of particular interest to LSAA is the outcome pertaining to the Gabba Stadium - an upgrade or knock down and rebuild. Adjacent roads will impact on a potentail cost of several billions. 

See a brief article by Jarrod Reedie for Architecture and Design

Some background arguments are in an article by The Guardian

Gabba Early CAD PK

A CAD Drawing of part of the early new Gabba redevelopment - Peter Kneen 1994.

Since the 1990s, the new roof was extended but for the current proposed Brisbane Olympics a revised 50,000 seat stadium is being considered.

A link to a database site of stadiums may supply further information HERE

Tensinet PFAS Statement and LSAA Position

LSAA (previously MSAA), has been promoting the quality of tensile fabric structures since 1981 and hereby concurs and agrees with  the following statement (issued by Tensinet) with respect to the PFAS restriction proposal:

For more than half a century, structural membranes, including PTFE-coated glass fabric, PVC-coated polyester fabric, ETFE-foils, and other variants, have found widespread use. These Fluoropolymers are classified as Polymers of Low Concern (PLC).

Unfortunately, there is currently no alternative material (with comparable performance in terms of longevity, durability, strength, and fire-resistance), and the consequences of the PFAS restriction for the tensile fabric structures sector (or tensile membrane structures sector) would have a non-compensable negative impact.

Given that the tensile fabric structures occupy a specialised niche, we need to consolidate our efforts to ensure an effective communication.  LSAA wishes to obtain feedback and support from all stakeholders - contractors, fabricators, suppliers, engineers, architects (involved in this niche industry)

If you share this point of view, we invite you to support the petition, thereby helping to preserve the future of tensile fabric structures.

Follow the Tensinet link to learn about the Working Group position on PFAS and to sign and add your support to the online petition.
Tensinet states that you should sign before September 15. You may need to be a member.

An additional approach is to send an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Australian governments have been working collaboratively for some time to identify and treat existing PFAS contamination in the environment. All agree that more effort should be focused on preventing further PFAS releases into the environment.

The outline to the work done as well as an explanation of the consultation process can be found here

Work to establish the National Standard is underway. In the interim, Australian governments have developed the National PFAS Position Statement to start a national conversation about non-regulatory ways to reduce PFAS releases.

Statement can be viewed here

Saint-Gobain Logo

We have learnt that Saint-Gobain will be restructuring its Composite Solutions business.

That decision comes after a strategic review of the business and in the context of Saint-Gobain's continued goal of optimizing its business portfolio to deliver on its Grow and Impact Plan. The Composite Solutions Business Unit will no longer exist.

As a result of this restructure, Saint-Gobain will cease manufacturing the following products: PTFE & Silicone Rubber Coated fabrics; PTFE Coated Fabric and Silicone Belts; PTFE Cast films as well as Sheerfill Architectural Membranes; Sheergard.

Existing contracts for these products will be honoured, but not extended, and no new orders will be taken for these products.

The above is an extract from a letter by Michael Katzer Director Sales & Marketing EMEA

Download a PDF copy here

Article added September 23 2023

PFAS is the acronym for Polyfluoroalkyl Substances.

The European Commission is proposing that all PFAS be banned on the basis that they can be toxic, remain persistent and bioaccumulate in people and other organisms and may contribute to increasing health problems.

The number of everyday products that could be affected is staggering and various industries are starting to fight back against the proposal.

The membranes or architectural fabrics used by our Lightweight Structures Industry will be impacted if the proposed PFAS ban proceeds unless there are exemptions. 

This PFAS restriction has been proposed by 5 EU States Members and currently evaluated by ECHA (European Chemical Agency) in Europe.

PFAS is a very wide family of substances (more than 5,000). Among those 5,000 substances, there are liquids, gases and solids with different toxicological profiles.

The fluoropolymers (PVDF, PTFE, ETFE, FEP, PFA…) fall under the PFAS definition based on chemical similarities but they are solid, chemically inert, stable, non-toxic, non-mobile…  and according to the OECD criteria, they are classified as “Polymer of Low Concern”.

Fluoropolymers are used in tensile architectural membranes in a form of coating (PTFE), lacquer on PVC coating (PVDF), or film (ETFE, ..).

These fluoropolymers are Polymers of Low Concern, therefore most of the European tensile textile fabric manufacturers and users are requesting an exemption for fluoropolymers.

It is very important that contractors and designers of architectural tensile membranes, contribute to this consultation to provide inputs supporting evidence and to give a more precise picture on the socio-economical impacts in case of ban of fluoropolymers.

A first step is to select from a list of topics, the one your company intends to provide comments. LSAA suggest you to answer at least to the following :

  • Information on alternatives (to give your opinion on viability of alternatives to fluoropolymers suggested by ECHA Europe),
  • Information on benefits (to explain the benefits of fluoropolymers),
  • Socio-economic analysis issues (to highlight the socio-economical impacts on your activities),
  • Request for exemption (to avoid restriction of fluoropolymers).

It is important that you pay attention to the alternatives to fluoropolymers that have been suggested by the European states that have proposed the restriction.  

Please give your opinion on each suggested alternative materials for tensile architectural membranes (see the suggested alternatives in the annex 1 of this document).

Do you consider that they are realistic alternatives or not to replace the existing membranes ? And why?

Submissions to be provided via the following link: Submitted restrictions under consideration - ECHA (europa.eu) and click on “give your comments”

Based on all the submissions and feedback, ECHA (European Chemical Agency) will evaluate this restriction proposal.

The producers of fluoropolymers and the producers of coated fabrics and films for architectural uses have already contributed to the ECHA’s public consultation.

It is then important that other companies affected by this restriction, provide ECHA a more informed picture of the socioeconomical impact of such restriction of fluoropolymer.

These bans could have a major impact on the Lightweight Structures industry that uses many of the fabric types mentioned.

Jörg Schlaich (1934 – 4 September 2021) was a highly respected German engineer especially for his creative and elegant design of bridges, long-span roofs, and other innovative structures. In 1980 he was a co-founder of the consulting firm Schlaich Bergermann Partner based in Stuttgart.

Jörg Schlaich was one of a select group who studied both architecture and civil engineering at Stuttgart University and at Berlin from 1953 to 1959.

In 1963, he joined the firm Leonhardt & Andrä. He later became a partner where a highlight was being responsible for the Olympic Stadium in Munich. He stayed with the firm until 1969.

In 1974 he became an academic at Stuttgart University, before founding his own firm.

In terms of large span roof structures – of particular interest to LSAA members – he pioneered the concept of the “bicycle wheel” with an outer compression ring resisted the tension of radial cables coupled to an inner cable ring. This was used in 1993 with the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium (later known as the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart. Another example was the main stadium in Kuala Lumpur for the 1998 Commonweath Games. Many recent stadia have adapted this principle.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration is moving closer to creating a "ferry-free" highway.

The proposal comprises a 2km long suspension bridge (The Julsundet Bridge) with a main span of 1625m - to claim bragging rights by 1metre over the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark.

There is also proposed to have an extended subsea tunnel approximately 25km long when completed. This is claimed to be the World's longest road tunnel - the England to France Channel Tunnel is a rail tunnel about 50km in length. An existing 24.5 km road tunnel creates a ferry-free highway between Oslo and Bergen.

For further information - see "Bridgeweb Article

A short paper by Nicholas Goldsmith - (LSAA Keynote Speaker in 2016).

He reflects on a time in 1984 at a dinner with Walter Bird, Frei Otto and Ian Liddell and the path that textile architecture has taken in the US and Europe since that time.

Download a copy here

A relatively new book about the incredible legacy of physical models used for designing and understanding of lightweight structures has been published by Spector Books (part summary below from their website).

In the 1950s, Frei Otto’s tent structures left their mark on the horticultural shows of the new Bonn Republic; together with Behnisch & Partner he created the roof landscape for the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. The innovative potential in his work is based on the interdisciplinarity of a mode of thinking that took in architecture, technology, art, science, and society. He saw nature as a model and tried throughout his life to harness it for the sake of architecture and civil engineering — and thus also for the future.

An updated Second edition of AS 4174:2018 "Knitted and woven shade fabrics" has been released.

It replaces the first edition published in 1994.

The main contents are:

Section 1 Scope and General

Section 2 Horticultural Shade Protection Fabrics

Section 3 Human Shade Protection Fabrics

Appendices - 6 Appendices

[Update August 2019: There has been an Amendment No 1 issued with some revised wording and typo corrections]

The Second Annual Summit Conference being held in Melbourne from 25-26 June 2018 will be concentrating on the Fire Issues pertaining to dangerous cladding in particular.

Details of the event can be found at the following webpage, from which the text below is extracted with acknowledgement.

Event Details - Agenda and Booking

"2017 was a tragic turning point for the construction and safety industry with the Grenfell Tower fire in London. For Australia, it was a particularly sobering reminder of the narrowly avoided disaster at Melbourne’s Lacrosse Tower fire in 2014.

As governments, taskforces, regulators, and industry bodies continue to work together to ensure that no such tragedy happens again, the much broader discussion around non-compliant products and accountability has come into focus. In addition to the risks associated with some cladding products, the sector is coming under further scrutiny on topics such as glass, wiring and waterproofing."

There has been considerable backlash to the NSW State Government's proposal to demolish and re-build several stadiums in Sydney.

It would seem that the original decision to demolish the Sydney Olympic Stadium may have been done very hastily.

After some weeks, it would appear that a review of the decision is in order.

A recent article by ArchitectureAU can be found AT THIS LINK

A new (future) draft version of the NCC (National Construction Code) is now available for public comment. Comments are due by COB April 13 2018.

To view this document (in PDF format) you may need to login or register at the ABCB (Australian Building Codes Board) website https://www.abcb.gov.au/

Of interest to many involved in lightweight structures, and in particular tension membrane structures, are the new requirements related to fire. These new requirements have been the result of a number of fatal fires in Australia and overseas. See this article for an interim report related to fires and cladding.

There are a number of product orientated "white papers" that may be of some interest to designers located HERE

To download, you have to give your contact details which may not appeal to all.

An Interim Report has now been published by the recently formed Victorian Cladding Taskforce. 

The taskforce follows the serious Lacrosse Building fire in Melbourne Docklands (November 2014) and later the Grenfell Tower disaster (71 fatalities, June 2017) in London (see Grenfell_Tower_fire ) involving the use of highly combustible cladding panels.

The report covers the use of aluminium composite panels (ACP) with a polyethylene core and expanded polystyrene (EPS) cladding, for class 2, 3, or 9 buildings of two or more storeys, and class 5, 6, 7 or 8 buildings of three or more storeys. 

A PDF copy is available here

An earlier report on the Lacrosse Fire by Giuseppe Genco (Melbourne Building Surveyor) in April 2015 can be downloaded here

Prepared by the Tensile Membrane Structures Standards Committee of the Codes and Standards Activities Division of the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE

Standard ASCE/SEI 55-16 provides minimum criteria for the analysis, design, and performance of membrane-covered cable and rigid member structures, collectively known as tensile membrane structures. It is applicable to both permanent and temporary structures.

Within CEN/TC 250/WG 5, CEN/TC 248/WG 4, the TensiNet Association and COST Action TU1303, an international team of researchers, engineers, architects, material producers and manufacturers has been working on this report, which provides background information in support of the implementation and development of a future Eurocode for the Structural Design of Tensile Membrane Structures.

Tensioned Membrane Structures have unique properties compared to the more conventional built environment. Besides their low self-weight and high flexibility these structures are known to be 'optimally' constructed, as they are only loaded in tension. It results in shapes adapted to the flow of forces and a minimum of material needed to realise the span.

Important revisions have taken place for fire detection and control in buildings across a number of Standards.

These set out the minimum requirements that should be in place during design and construction to ensure compliance.

Recent revisions include:

AS/NZS 1668.1:2015
The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings - Fire and smoke control in buildings

AS 1670.1:2015
Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems - System design, installation and commissioning

AS 1670.4:2015
Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems - System design, installation and commissioning - Emergency warning and intercom systems

Article added February 2016. For more information, see SAI Global website


The Australian Building Codes Board have recently published a new standard for Temporary Structures.

The LSAA contributed to its development. 

This Standard is intended for use in the design, construction and use of temporary structures. It provides criteria for structural safety (particularly determining appropriate wind actions), fire safety (including fire resistance of materials, fire safety services and equipment, and egress), access, sanitary facilities and certain ancillary provisions.

It is still open for adoption by particular State or Territory Authorities.

A copy may be found HERE

The famous German Engineer - Architect Frei Otto has been awarded the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize one day after his death.

Frei Otto was regarded as the most influential person to drive the modern move to adopt large span lightweight structures using fabrics, timber gridshells and cablenets.

He was very passionate about sharing his knowledge and ideas through the establishment of the Institute of Lightweight Structures at Stuggart University and hence its broad range of publications as well as a large number of students that spent time there.

Australian Standard for Swimming Pools

A new Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2012 "Swimming pool safety - Safety barriers for swimming pools" has just been released.

The objective of this Standard is to assist pool owners/users in avoiding pool-related drowning by providing design, construction and performance of various barrier options, which are designed to restrict entry to the swimming pool area by young children.

As LSAA members are often involved in the provision of shade structures to pools and playgrounds, this new standard may have some relevance.

Perth Stadium Design Approved

The new Perth $900 million 60,000 seat sports stadium design has been approved. The winning design team comprises Cox Architects, Hassell, HKS and Arup.

The following article appears on the WA Government's Perth Stadium website.

Of particular interest is the fabric roof and possible aspects of the "bronze facade".

Preferred bidder named for new Perth Stadium

Tuesday 15 April 2014

The contract to design, build, finance and maintain the new 60,000 seat Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct has reached another important milestone with the naming of WESTADIUM as the Preferred Respondent.

  • WESTADIUM is Preferred Respondent to build new Perth Stadium
  • All three bids were world-class and satisfied strict criteria
  • Negotiations to conclude mid-2014

Premier Colin Barnett said each of the three shortlisted private sector consortia submitted world-class bids that addressed the technical, operational and commercial requirements of the State’s Request For Proposals.

For this article and further information see: Perth Stadium Website or http://www.perthstadium.com.au/

Shady business: call for sun safety reform

Gaps expose childcare kids to poor shade design and installation.

A CHOICE investigation has uncovered gaping holes in the regulation of the shadecloth design and installation industry which potentially compromises the sun safety of childcare centres.

Even those centres certified as SunSmart by the voluntary Cancer Council Australia program may have unwittingly bought shadecloth with a low level of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) protection or had it incorrectly installed.

Minneapolis Dome Collapses

The pounding snow caused the roof of the 64,000-seat Metrodome in Minneapolis to "deflate" Sunday morning, Minnesota State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said. Workers wielding shovels could be seen clearing the roof of the heavy white stuff, while photos from inside the darkened stadium showed much of the field covered with snow that fell from a gaping hole in the dome.

TensileDraw: the Tensile Structure Software

TensileDraw is an AutoCAD and RHINO fully compatible and integrated plug-in software package developed in collaboration with Maffeis Engineering & Consulting. It can simulate well balanced force stress distribution on the membrane surface without complicating file exportation and related compatibility problems.

The great versatility of the application is most significant: it can calculate the form of complex geometry fabric structures thanks to the generation of a warp and weft beam mesh reproducing the orthotropic behaviour of fabric material.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has undertaken a review of historical and current criticisms of the Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) industry.
This report will be of interest to LSAA members dealing with PVC coated fabrics.
A copy of the GBCA report is at the following link: GBCA PVC Report.

International Design Competition for the new Japan National Stadium

A new stadium is being proposed by Japan Sport Council that aims to be the "greatest stadium".

There has been an International Design Competition for the new Japan National Stadium and a short list of 11 international design groups has been selected.

Two reasons for the new stadium are to boost Japan's bid to host the 2020 Olympics as well as the FIFA World Cup.

Flinders Street Station Design Competition

There are six groups who have been shortlisted for the next stage of the Design Competition for revamping Melbourne's iconic Flinders Street Station.

Most groups involve local and international firms. The next stage of the process is due to be completed in July 2013 after each group develops their design concepts further and have briefings with government departments.

More details can be found here.

America Cup Boats - The Ultimate Lightweight Structure?

The new catamaran boats used in the America Cup races are a true example of a lightweight structure and embody many elements that the design of normal tensioned fabric structures take into account.

The wind loading is critical for both and the structural form required to resist or to take advantage of the wind pressures is the key element to success.

Both use highly engineered modern materials that require optimization in terms of orientation, cutting patterns and seaming technology.

The more rigid components need to be optimized also to reduce weight whilst still maintaining structural stiffness.

Congratulations to the USA for winning but also to Team New Zealand for pushing the limits.

More details on the boat sizes and limitations can be found here

AAMI Stadium Most Iconic

World's Most Iconic and Culturally Significant Stadium

The AAMI Stadium in Melbourne has been named as the "World's Most Iconic and Culturally Significant Stadium" at the Stadium World Congress 2012 in Doha.

The AAMI Stadium was also the overall winner of the 2011 LSAA Design Awards in the "Collaboration Category".

Cox Architecture and Arup Engineers developed the design of the 31,000 seat geodesic structure that acts as home for the Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory sporting teams.

For more details of the structure, click HERE