Robina Market Hall, Gold Coast

Robina Market Hall, Gold Coast: Distinctive waveform roof offers sense of place


This shopping centre is distinguished by its waveform roof with vault forms that allow for repetition of details, location of splices, consistency of angles at intersections and modular erection. 

The Robina Town Centre Market Hall extension was carried out in sequential stages at the request of the client, Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), to update areas of an existing major shopping centre. 

Based on a design concept from an overseas design firm, a major design feature is the repetitive ‘waves’ of the roof. These waves are conoid with truncated ends which give the opportunity for south facing gables with glazing and offer a nod to the coastal nature of the city. 

For the geometric accuracy needed, speed of erection and required lightness of the roof, steel was the obvious choice.

The building’s distinctive wave form roof comprises either vaults on UB columns (like a portal) or vaults on primary trusses linked into a partly demolished original Market Hall truss. The vault forms allowed repetition of details, location of splices, consistency of angles at intersections and a modular erection methodology. 

The configuration of the vaults was reviewed to minimise thrust forces. The transfer trusses/beams were a primary design issue with stiffness critical for deflection of roof vaults. The modular nature of the roof allowed overall stability provided by cantilever columns and trusses to be explored and reviewed to suit program constraints. Construction was achieved within an operating shopping centre and delivered in stages with minimal tenant disruption. 

Speedy fabrication required

The project’s builder recognised that the roof would be a major goal to achieve early in the program; hence, early steel fabrication was of major importance. Close collaboration was encouraged by the builder between the steel detailer, architect and structural engineer, which saw the complex geometry (parabolic in section) of the structure, fabricated and erected with minimal onā€site issues. 

Design of the roof

Some of the key elements of the roof and its structural design are as follows:

  • The precinct concept design was prepared in 2013 by ACME/Seventh Wave architects (UK) and developed from repeating conoid roof forms in a north light type configuration. Architectural construction documentation was provided by the Buchan Group. Early concepts had the roof constructed from timber. However, due to little expertise in timber construction, at this scale, in Australia, a steel-framed option was explored
  • Each vault comprises sloped planar sections on sides, part cylindrical section at the base of curve and a non-developable conoid infill at top. Structural action is as a rafter and purlin system with some membrane action
  • Design of the transfer trusses/beams was a primary design issue. Stiffness of supporting transfer trusses/beams was critical for deflection of roof vaults. The trusses were also intended to be used for service reticulation. The configuration of the vaults was reviewed to minimise thrust forces
  • The vault forms allowed for repetition of details, location of splices, consistency of angles at intersections and a modular erection methodology
  • Different purlin types and configurations were investigated from cold formed to curved RHS. The roof sheet was a standing seam aluminium system supported on a plywood and membrane layer
  • Overall stabilty was provided by cantilever columns and trusses, which was part of the desired architectural aesthetic of raw structual elements
  • Structural steel allowed the only practicable way to deliver this type of roof at a Gold Coast site and to evolve a structure which could accommodate architectural intent, provide for servicing and meet construction and program constraints. 

The project won the Buildings – Large Projects award at the 2016 ASI QLD Steel Awards, with one of the judges commenting that the “project demonstrates that intricate fluid roof shapes can be constructed using largely single elements, and in doing so, produce a skeletal structure of interest in itself.”