COX ‘true to the grain’ Tasmania venue design



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Cox Architecture lead designer for Macquarie Point stadium Image: AFL

The Australian firm COX Architecture has been named as the Lead Design Consultant for the Macquarie Point (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) Australian Football League (AFL) stadium.

‘abc.net.au’ stated that the newly appointed architects for Hobart’s waterfront stadium say the earlier artist impression is an example of what the company doesn’t want to do.

The Rocks (Australia)-based COX Architecture is an award-winning architectural practice with studios in every major Australian City and a history of 60 years. COX Architecture specializes in architecture, planning, urban design, and interior design, and has worked on projects in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

COX Architecture’s design is contemporary and socialist, and they specialize in four principles: Structure, nature, art, and craft. They work within a collegiate framework that allows ideas to emerge from the many, for the many. The firm’s innovative technology and structural design solutions emphasize the design of core elements.

The 23,000-capacity Macquarie Point Stadium is a proposed multipurpose stadium in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, scheduled to begin construction in 2025 and open in 2029 as the home ground of the Tasmania Football Club.

The Tasmania Football Club, nicknamed the ‘Devils’, is a professional Australian Rules football club set to compete in the Australian Football League (AFL) from the 2028 season and the AFL Women’s from an unspecified date. The club will be based in Tasmania (Australia) with matches to be played across the State.

When it starts play in 2028, the Tasmania Football Club will play its home games at the existing 20,000-capacity Bellerive Oval in Hobart and at the 21,000-capacity York Park in Launceston, Tasmania, while the Macquarie Point Stadium is built.

Melbourne (Australia)-based the Australian Football League (AFL) is the pre-eminent and only fully professional competition of Australian Rules football. It was originally named the Victorian Football League and was founded in 1896 as a breakaway competition from the Victorian Football Association, with its inaugural season held in 1897.

The Australian Rules football, also called Australian football or Aussie Rules, or more simply football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an oval field, often a modified cricket ground.

‘abc.net.au’ further stated that the firm has designed sports venues such as the 61,266-capacity Perth Stadium in Perth, Australia, the 45,500-capacity Sydney Football Stadium in Moore Park, Australia, the 30,748-capacity Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, and the redesign of the 53,500-capacity Adelaide Oval in North Adelaide, Australia.

COX Architecture Director Alastair Richardson said while it was incredibly early days, they had some ideas, but were “wary” of earlier artistic renders.

Remarked Richardson, “They give some clues of what we don’t want to do. This building needs to be scaled, transparent, open, something that actually has an engagement with the City and not a concrete wall, sort of blocking off its access.”

Richardson said he was confident that the final design would be “respectful to the grain of Hobart as a whole. One of the key things we want to do is to really make sure that this engages with the streetscape, that this engages with people walking around and obviously is respectful to the Cenotaph in terms of how it sits just below the escarpment.”

That includes considering the height issue and how the building might be able to “come down at a lower scale around the perimeter. Can we sink it slightly? What does that look like? How do we maintain the envelope such that the height is there in relation to cricket and football for example? But is as low as possible in terms of the perimeter.”
 

Design-to-budget

As for the billion-dollar question, the architects are confident they can design-to-budget.

Added Richardson, “We are confident the $715 million budget is perfectly appropriate for the project. So the aim will be that we’ll be within their budget.”

Averred Anne Beach, Chief Executive, Macquarie Point Development Corporation, which manages the development of the precinct, “We have done the work and we know that it will fit. We did extensive work last year looking at the benchmarking field sizes, different stadia and considering whether or not it will fit on this site. We know it can fit with room and we know that the other projects we want to deliver on this site can also fit to deliver not only a multipurpose stadium, but a mixed-use precinct, which is really important to get the activation we want on this site.”

Beach said one of the other common concerns raised by others about the project was the suitability of the foundation land. But she insisted testing had proved the site was suitable – “We’ve just built a 3D model of all of the geotech and we currently have on site a sonic drill, which is helping us understand the properties of the bedrock of this site. We’re very confident we can build it here. We have the data and we don’t have any concerns about that.”

The Macquarie Point Development Corporation is a statutory authority and State agency charged with planning, facilitating and managing the remediation and development of the Mac Point in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. The Macquarie Point Development Corporation was established in 2012 by the Tasmanian Government to redevelop the 9.3 hectare site into a mixed-use precinct.

The Macquarie Point Development Corporation said in February that it expected a design for the stadium would be ready to show in June.
 

Sewerage plant move blows out

But the site is far from complication free.

Before any works can begin, the existing wastewater treatment plant will need to be relocated.

In 2016, well before the idea of a stadium was born, it was estimated it would cost TasWater (Tasmania’s primary water and sewage utility) $140 million to move its waterfront wastewater treatment plant to an expanded Selfs Point site further up the River Derwent in Tasmania.

That move never happened. The project has since blown out to $314 million.

TasWater cites the market conditions, the rising building costs and an expanded scope of the project as reasons for the blowout.

While it may not impact the stadium’s budget as it was set to move regardless of the stadium, it will still cost the Tasmanian taxpayers.

And that move is now on a tight timeline, with the Tasmanian Government’s deal with the AFL setting the stadium’s completion for 2028-2029.

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