Project details

// Client -
Techlam New Zealand
// Location -
Sydney, Australia
// Services -
// Structural Engineering
// Status -

Awarded a highly commended at the 2023 Timber Design Awards, Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre is the largest pool complex built in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic games, and features ‘Kiwi’ structural engineering ingenuity in the form of the longest free-spanning mass timber beams in Australasia. Housing a crèche, gym, sports field and an array of pools, the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre provides the Sydney public with a multiple award-winning space.

The Challenge – Engineering the longest free-spanning mass timber beams in Australasia.

Our structural experts were engaged to provide structural engineering design for the beams. In order to maximise light transmission through the roof, no secondary members between roof beams were proposed. The design needed to ensure the stability of the beams to accommodate not only gravity and wind load but also high tensile lateral loads induced by the ETFE cushions.

The Kirk Roberts Solution

Each roof rafter consists of a pair of glue-laminated beams jointed by a continuous Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panel as a top flange, to form a composite section. This increased the strength and stiffness of the beams and helped to control rafter depth. Each glulam beam was assembled from three 12m long segments with hidden mechanical connections, concealing any visual joints in the glulam.

The spliced connections allowed the beams to be transported from New Zealand to Sydney, assembled onsite and lifted into place as one 36-metre-long composite piece, reducing construction risks. The joint connection design at the splice also sped up the beams on-site installation for the contractors. Our innovation in this design meant that steel components were hidden within the wooden beams, providing the required stability and meeting the architectural vision, while also protecting the steel elements within the beam from the corrosive indoor pool environment.

Our expert engineers found a creative way to utilise timber to fulfil not only architectural requirements and structural needs, and in the process created a new Australasian record.

Water play area of Gunyama park
Gunyama drone exterior shot
Indoor lane pool

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