The newly constructed Perth Arena – a showpiece of contemporary Australian public architecture – presented Kingspan Insulation with a range of technical challenges requiring highly customised solutions.
With its asymmetrical lines and sweeping irregular shapes, Perth Arena, completed in November 2012, is an individualistic building featuring a unique set of design and engineering challenges, none more dramatic than those relating to the insulation of the structure.
Standing some 50 metres high, the arena is a multipurpose centre built to host sporting, theatrical and musical events for up to 15,000 guests. The original and innovative design, however, called for bespoke treatments of all basic structural elements, including insulation, to meet ambitious thermal performance targets and ensure the long-term integrity of the structure.
Even at the earliest design stages it was clear that high-performance insulation would be intrinsic to the building’s overall viability. There were two primary insulation-related considerations: how to minimise the risk of condensation; and how to achieve high thermal efficiency (R-value of RT2.7).
“It’s a large steel structure with a unique construction, and there were challenges in relation to condensation and the high R-values that were required within the building systems,” says Craig Burr, Kingspan Insulation’s State Manager WA.
Approximately 7,200 tonnes of steel were used to construct the arena, which is significant because large masses of cold steel within a building fabric can lead to temperature differentials between the steel and ambient air, leading to a build-up of condensation. The problem is compounded in the structural skins of energy-efficient buildings, as leaky ventilation points are tightened to minimise energy wastage.
“So, there was a concern about ‘cold bridging’, or the effect that steel would have with that high insulation barrier,” Craig says.