Freestanding Structures, more than 92 square meters (1,000 square feet)
PVC coated Polyester
Producer/Manufacturer: Serge Ferrari North America Inc.
Primary Use: Main Fabric
Engineer Name 1
Engineer Company 1
Wade Design Engineers
Project Manager Company
Please describe the project specifications
The Steel Taipan ride at Dreamworld located on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, opened in late 2021. The AUD$32million roller coaster features a 1.2km track roller coaster and the Southern Hemisphere’s first triple launch system that launches the train forward, backwards, and then forwards again at a top speed of 105km/hr.
The client required a bespoke walkway canopy structure, designed to represent the form of the exoskeleton of a snake, which would provide shade and weather protection to patrons as they wait in line for the Steel Taipan ride.
The custom entry structure was to provide a cool environment for patrons while they queue for the ride by use of a custom shade structure, coupled with fans and a misting system installed down the length of the spine.
The client required the structure to feature a custom tapered arched steel frame to form the tunnel which progressively gets more enclosed as the tunnel winds up to the load station. The central spine of the structure was originally designed to be GRC but the client required a value-engineered alternative. The fabric cladding was to be custom printed in snake scales to complete the effect of a taipan’s spine.
We were contracted for the design, engineering, supply, fabrication, and installation of the structural steel and cladding for this walkway structure as well as ancillary works such as fencing and façade works surrounding the ride.
What is unique or complex about the project?
We determined that this project was quite unique in various design elements including the shape of the canopy emulating the spine of a taipan snake, the PVC coated polyester cladding on the canopy with custom printing of the scales of the taipan snake, and the custom shaped aluminium panels forming the vertebrae of the snake. All these elements were quite unique and also challenging to achieve.
The three aspects of this project and how we achieved the design intent are detailed below:
1. The main frame of the canopy, which emulates the spine of the taipan snake, was formed with custom tapered portal beams which were quite complex to fabricate.
2. The central spine of the structure which was originally designed for GRC was value-engineered by us using custom-shaped aluminium panels which resulted in cost savings for the project whilst still meeting the client's design intent. These panels were laser printed with a custom print that blended with the printed fabric cladding above.
3. The fabric cladding wraps over the structure and features scalloped edges between the ribs. We procured opaque white PVC coated polyester from Serge Ferrari with no top coat on the underside, sent it to a specialist printer in Europe which custom printed the scale design onto the unsealed side of the fabric then sealed the fabric with an acrylic coating, which warrants the integrity of the print for 10 years. The fabrication process of the printed fabric required great precision, to ensure that the patterns lined up precisely over the fabric seams. Looking closely at the printed fabric, you can see that the design of the print lines up perfectly at the seams, and in most instances, the seams can barely be seen.
The result is a functional, yet iconic, walkway canopy which perfectly meets the client’s design intent and project requirements. The structure was delivered on time, to the client’s budget, and to the highest quality and safety standards and perfectly emulates the exoskeleton of a snake, as intended by the client.
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