To most Sydneysiders, the boundary fence of the Prince Alfred Park Pool is just that – a fence – albeit an extremely sleek and stylish one. For the team who created it however, it is the culmination of some of the most intricate and detailed tensile architecture and engineering ever to sit atop a green roof.
“Building a tensile fence on top of a green roof like this would be a world first,” said Ronstan Tensile Architecture Spokesman, Rowan Murray.
The stainless steel mesh fence itself has some very complex geometry, and almost every component was custom-fabricated. A plan view of the pool fence can be perceived as a straightforward boundary fence, but when laid over the site’s non-planar geography, it becomes a ribbon-like, freeform structure.
Because of the Architects’, Nick Murcutt and Rachel Neeson of Neeson Murcutt, attention to detail and steadfastness in realizing a sleek design with a very specific form, the fence didn’t follow a conventional construction process. Ronstan Tensile Architecture stayed closely in touch with the project team and were responsive to the many required minute adjustments.
The vertical planes of the 2.7m (9ft) high fence are angled organically to follow the undulating ground of the park. Its 350m (1150 ft) length is constructed of approximately 880m2 (9500 sq ft) of Carl Stahl X-Tend mesh of 40mm (1 1/2″) aperture, which is affixed top and bottom to Ronstan’s flagship ACS2 tensile steel cables and tensioned and held in place at the top edge by over 100 inclined steel posts. Tie-down stubs up to 1m (3ft) long, manufactured from electro-polished 316 stainless steel are concealed beneath the surface to connect the bottom cable and the bottom edge of the stainless steel mesh to the footings.
“This is an example of the project’s complexity – like all tensile structures where simple form masks the complex engineering involved, the minimal bottom connection someone sees is only the tip of an intricate structure carrying a substantial load down to the footing. All of that engineering is going on behind the scenes,” said Rowan.
The new heated 50 metre (150 ft) pool is up and operating with free entry for the first six months, so if you’re in the Sydney area drop in for a dip and enjoy the magnificent skyline view of the city, and appreciate that maybe the pool fence is a little more than just a fence.