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NZ Role In Athens Main Stadium Roofing Success

12 August, 2004


The erection of the steel arches for the roof over the main stadium for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens has proven to be one of the most significant engineering feats achieved in recent times.

Leading local firm, Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), which carried out the engineering for the main stadium for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, assisted Greek Contractor, Aktor with the engineering design of the roof structure.

The firm was also involved in the construction of the velodrome and facilities in the Hellenikon precinct.

The well-known Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava inspired the design that features the spectacular new roof over the Main Stadium.

Aktor engaged SKM to provide a proactive support role in identifying enhancements to the Calatrava design and deliver solutions that would not only add value, but be responsive to the issues involved in delivering this sensitive project.

SKM developed structural engineering solutions for the roof of the main stadium, while also assisting with the mechanical and electrical design and cladding, along with project management, design and coordination support.

This included implementing a project control system for the monitoring of all processes that could effect the progress of the works.

SKM's Trevor Robertson said the EUR200m (£133m) Project had been difficult because of the weather conditions and technical complexity of lifting the arches into place.

"Each of the arches, which are designed to carry the steel structure supporting the polycarbon roof plates overlooking the stadium, weigh around 6,000 tonnes and had to slide very slowly into place, across a distance of about 60 metres (200 ft)," Mr Robertson said.

"Our specialists in Auckland, Wellington, London, Manchester and Sydney have worked closely with Aktor, predominantly on the tubular steel work, to enabling its team to build this spectacular structure," he said.

The distinctive roof design features two colossal tubular arches holding up two roofs spanning over 300 metres across the Stadium.

They support a curved roof surface comprising an even larger tie-member that also acts as a torsion tube to support cantilevering, tapering girders.

These in turn carry the glass cladding.

Three sets of cables link the arch and torsion tube, with the outer sets forming a curved, fanning plane that is a strong architectural feature of the building.

The two roofs are tentatively joined at each end.

The entire 12,000 tonne, 20,000m2 structure touches the ground in only four locations, at the ends of the massive spans.


Sinclair Knight Merz has offices across New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia, the Pacific, the UK and South America.

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