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Architectural designs in composites – WA’s elite sports training centre

The striking facade on the WAIS High Performance Service Centre

Architects for the newly-opened Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) have created a new landmark building for Perth, using a striking facade treatment in resin composites. Image courtesy WAIS.

“Composites are a solution to an ambition,” says Sandover Pinder Architects David Karotkin and Michael V. Henderson. Designing the WAIS with Melbourne partners dwp/suters archtects, the team sought to create an entrance that was inspirational both for the state’s elite athletes in training as well as the general public.

“Influenced by human physiology, the facade’s undulating form references an athlete’s skeleton, tendons and muscles. The material chosen to best articulate this organic design was Glass Reinforced Polymer,” says dwp/suters architects.

Conscious of the budgetary responsibilities of delivering a public building, the architects were able to off-set any additional material costs with the savings composites provide as a result of its lightweight, off-site manufacture, ease of installation, and laminate finish requiring little ongoing maintenance for its lifetime.

The composites façade was made off-site at Swarbrick & Swarbrick Yachts in Henderson, WA.

It is the latest in a growing list of architectural, infrastructure and sculpture projects for proprietor Glenn Swarbrick that include the Kenwick Train Station roof;  an ultra-strong lightweight footbridge in Centennial Pioneer Park, Perth; a sculpture for the St George’s Cathedral Perth – Ascalon; and Creature, a sculpture by Melbourne artist Alexander Knox located in Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital atrium.

“It was a pleasure working with both Sandover Pinder Architects and Esslemont Cockram Construction on this project,” says Glenn.

“Taking the original shape of the façade, we redesigned and engineered it to be manufactured in light weight composite panels to make the fabrication, transport and installation relatively smooth.

“The panels had a maximum width of 3.5metres to fit along the narrow access road and were 6.5 to 7.5 metres high. In all the façade took 12 weeks from creating the one-off MDF mould to being fully installed.” Summit Composites supplied the materials and Composites Consulting Group finalised the engineering of the components.

“These projects are very different from our marine market but it is really satisfying to see composite materials used to advantage by architects in such high profile public places,” Glenn said.


Swarbrick & Swarbrick
Composites Consulting Group
Sandover Pinder architects