The NRA Collaborative
Northrop Consulting Engineers
Beenleigh Steel Fabrications
Brilly's Brilliant Solutions
Longreach, Queensland, "gateway to the outback" and home of the Stockman's Hall of Fame, is probably most famous as the birthplace of Qantas. It's here you'll find the Qantas Founders Museum and their new award-winning Airpark.
The Qantas Founders Museum Airpark was completed in 2020 as part of the centenary of Qantas celebrations. The $14.3 million dollar viewing experience (with spectacular light show) was primarily designed as a roof to protect iconic aircraft from the harsh elements of outback Queensland (blistering sun to torrential rain).
Architects, The NRA Collaborative, were given the task of designing a roof that was not only weather proof, but architecturally outstanding; a soaring tribute to Qantas’ impact on the world of commercial aviation.
The NRA Collaborative approached us about ARAMAX® because they loved the way it looked; its sleek V profile was exactly what the architects had in mind. But looks weren’t going to be enough, it had to perform – be strong enough to span long distances between structural supports, be able to withstand gale force winds, handle extreme downpours and survive the outback sun for a given project required life span. It also had to be easy to install because none of the aircraft could be moved – the Airpark had to be built around them.
It took at least three months of intense design, co-ordinating and solution solving with the architects, structural engineers and the steel frame manufacturers, before the measurements and tolerances were calculated precisely in a complex 3D model. There was absolutely no margin for error.
Normally, installation is a quick and relatively straightforward process; assembling ARAMAX® is a bit like playing with giant Lego, it clips into place. The Qantas Founders Museum Airpark was a different scenario entirely. For a start, the roof was erected under the steel framing, so it became more like a giant game of Meccano – steel cleats had to be welded to the bottom flange of the support beams, and ARAMAX® underslung connected via winches over the unmovable aircraft. This would be impossible to achieve with a conventional roofing system.
The other major difference to the roof construction was the run-off flume; essentially a giant box gutter to quickly carry away the huge amount of rainwater that falls during an outback storm. Water is funnelled down the flume into a giant ‘soaker pit’ which empties it into a sculptural catchment drain on the tarmac below. Constructing the system was an exacting process, everything had to fit precisely, which, of course, it did.
The project was a huge success with all stake-holders: client, architect, engineer, builder, roof installer and Fielders. The Qantas Founders Museum Airpark has already won the Queensland Steel Institute Award for Outstanding Design and was highly commended in the national Fielders Made Design Awards in 2020.