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Finished Project - photo credit Peter Barnes
Memorial Drive Tennis Centre Canopy (2021 DA)

Memorial Drive Tennis Centre Canopy (2021 DA)

LSAA 2022 Plaques 0008APPLICATION OF PROJECT:      
Tennis stadium roof


The Memorial Drive Redevelopment Project was tasked with ensuring the future configuration of the Adelaide Tennis Centre complex met South Australia’s sporting and entertainment needs. Stage One of the project called for a redevelopment of all the court surfaces (over 30 new court surfaces in a mixture of Pluxicushion, grass and clay built to International Tennis Federation (ITF) standards), construction of a new sunken show court, player shelters and landscaping, and crowning the project, a 5800m2 lightweight tensile membrane roof to cover the existing centre court and spectator stands.

An example of close-knit collaboration between Tennis SA, COX Architecture, MakMax Australia and local Adelaide construction firm Kennett Builders, the completion of the Memorial Drive Redevelopment Project Stage One set the scene for an exciting summer of tennis in early 2020. The most eye-catching element of the project is the 5800m2 PTFE membrane roof that protects patrons in the permanent and temporary movable seating areas, as well as covering the corporate function event areas installed around the centre court for major tournaments.



Central to the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre redevelopment, the PTFE wide-span barrel vault canopy allows international tournaments to be played during the day in any weather, or under lights at night. The Memorial Drive Tennis Centre redevelopment, including the new canopy, is designed to be a showpiece that ensures Adelaide has a place on the international tennis stage for the long term.

The highly translucent canopy creates a visually exciting fabric structure, visible to both patrons on site and to tennis fans around the world via the wider global media audiences. The weatherproof protection given to players and spectators enhances the tennis experience for both day and night matches.

The highly visible nature of the roof required a strong attention to detail in finish quality, with premium fixing details integrated into the design to enhance the overall result. In addition to this, all works had to remain in keeping with the architectural style of the historic Memorial Drive sports and entertainment precinct and it’s heritage buildings.


One of the standout aspects of the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre Canopy design is its incredible long span trusses (almost 80 meters in length), which are supported by only four perimeter columns. This presented a manufacturing and installation challenge with trusses supporting PTFE fabric panels up to 80m long.

Unique parametric modelling was adopted for the steel fabrication and revised several times in collaboration with the project architect, which allowed the design and engineering team to quickly adopt the revisions from the project client and directly employ them into the fabrication and installation process.

One of the main challenges to overcome on the project was the roofing structure had to have sufficient fall to avoid water ponding on the wide fabric sections and allow for adequate drainage. The final design was a collaboration between the roof designer and the architect to develop the most efficient design geometry, so the water still capsulated over the roof and didn’t pond on the ultra-large fabric panels, while also ensuring that the visible rainwater sumps were not detrimental to the overall aesthetic design. The final structure includes only 4 dedicated downpipes, which is unique because the roof structure is so large. The 110 mm diameter downpipes feature unique Fast Flow siphonic heads which can channel over 50 litres of rainwater per second out of the sumps.


The fabric panels were created using high translucency PTFE coated fiberglass and are supported by painted steel beams. Chukoh FGT800 PTFE was chosen for the membrane. A dynamic tensile material, PTFE is unmatched for its quality, aesthetics, self-cleaning properties, and durability, making it the ideal product for Memorial Drive’s Centre Court.

The PTFE roof membrane was fabricated in seven panels: five covering the roof and two covering the skirts both north and south. The largest of the panels by itself is 1600m2, which we believe is the single largest fabricated PTFE section installed in Australia to date. The fabric panels were up to 80m long and were transported to site across the country using custom designed jigs that could fit to oversize transport units. The jigs were designed to minimise waste, making sure they were able to be flat packed for easy return to the factory to enable use for the future deliveries.

The inclusion of cleverly designed aluminum façade panels, which conceal the edge gutters and flashing, assist to maintain the aesthetically pleasing dome structure.


Fabricated in our Brisbane factory, the PTFE panels we so large that extensive pre-stress testing was crucial to factor in compensations prior to plotting and fabrication. A great deal of design work was also involved to ensure the seam layout on the seven membrane panels would complement the steel arrangement once installed.

The panels have an impressive 1 kilometer of combined perimeter seam length, all of which was sewn in-house using Teflon thread.

As the membrane sections were larger than available factory floor space, special methods were developed to incrementally package and wrap the panels as they were being fabricated, including carefully rolling onto PVC pipes to assist with strengthening the rolls of fabric in transit and during installation. Two crane trucks were employed to load each of the panels on custom-design jigs on the back of the truck.


As we were building a free-standing roof structure over a heritage building, the combined project teams from COX, MakMax and Kennett paid a lot of careful consideration to the positioning of the structure, as well as the location and depth of the footings. Design, site layout and careful construction methodology made sure there was adequate distance from the historic tennis club buildings to ensure there would be no damage.

Once the steel frame was erected, the weight of the manufactured panels and the deployment position from the apex of the arch required a novel temporary-works solution that allowed the fabric panels to unwind downhill at a controlled speed to prevent damage or panel loss.

In order to keep the structure as light as possible, a unique roof access service was integrated into the truss design and positioned between the structural members. This also allows for concealed access without creating external access stair system. The hatch is designed to make routine maintenance, inspections, and cleaning easier.

The working collaboration between COX Architecture, Kennett Builders and MakMax Australia managed to design and install the canopy right on schedule and in time for the Adelaide International tennis tournament, which took place at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre from 12 to 18 January 2020. The collaboration proved to be such a winning combination, that the whole project team was brought back to construct the Phase 2 of the redevelopment works, including a second PTFE canopy over the new sunken show court. This second canopy will be completed in late 2021, ready for 2022 Adelaide International.




  • 6133_01-finished-hero.jpg – photo credit Peter Barnes
  • 6133_02-finished2.jpg – photo credit Peter Barnes
  • 6133_03-finished3.jpg – photo credit Peter Barnes
  • 6133_04-finished4.jpg – photo credit Peter Barnes
  • 6133_05-finished5.jpg – photo credit Peter Barnes
  • 6133_06-finished6.jpg – photo credit Peter Barnes
  • 6133_07-Fabrication
  • 6133_08-Fabrication-transport
  • 6133_09-Installation.jpg
  • 6133_10-Installation.jpg
  • 6133_11-Installation.jpg
  • 6133_13-Access-Point.jpg


  • 6133-first-panel-unroll.mp4
  • 190204 Memorial Drive redevelopment.pdf


Project ID Number   6133
Project Name Memorial Drive Tennis Centre
Project Location      War memorial drive, Adelaide, SA  5000

GPS Location          34.9176° S, 138.5951° E
Completion Date     Nov-19
Preferred Category  6 Design & Construction Collaboration
Entrant Name         MakMax Australia
Address        133 Lavarack Ave, Eagle Farm, QLD  4009

Contact Phone Number      073633 5900
Mobile Number       
Email Address         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website Address     www.makmax.com.au
Entrant Type / Role Designer / Engineer / Fabricator / Installer
Project Client Tennis SA
Project Architect     Cox Architecture SA
Structural Engineer  Michael Chong - MakMax Australia
Building Contractor Kennett Builders
Fabricator(s) MakMax Australia