Hobart City Council wanted a canopy to increase the utilization of the Elizabeth Mall, Hobart’s main pedestrian precinct in the CBD. A floating canopy was deemed the best solution.
The suspended curved steel gridshell frame is hung from 8 masts which allows the gridshell itself to ‘float’ above the mall below. The undulating steel frame is actually made of square steel hollow sections curved with only 2 different radii, dramatically reducing the fabrication costs. The interaction of the two curves produced 6 different moulds for the acrylic panels which form the skin of the canopy.
The design had to answer many diverse issues, the most problematic being the ferocious winds that are funneled down Elizabeth St, especially in spring. The floating canopy had to deflect these winds up over the roof of it, and wind tunnel tests were conducted to ascertain a method the best method of doing this at the Monash University’s wind tunnel, where there is a scale model of the entire Hobart CBD. The answer to the winds is to have two swinging glass pivoted screens, which when closed create a semi-circular catchment area, which forces the wind to spiral up and over the 5m high canopy behind it, creating completely still conditions under the roof.