Finalist 2020

Rod Laver Arena

COX Architecture / Development Victoria / Melbourne & Olympic Parks / Lendlease

The Rod Laver Arena redevelopment delivers a flexible, adaptable, healthy and sustainable facility that is both dynamic and iconic.

Working with the existing structure, the project improved and enhanced venue amenities by upgrading existing operational facilities and introduces new public realm and striking built elements.

The project incorporates an upgrade to existing arena facilities–the ‘apparatus’ of the place, with the design addressing the pragmatic requirements inherent in the production of world-class sporting and entertainment events while also delivering innovative infrastructure and maintaining sensitivity to the precinct masterplan and constraints of the existing structure.

Design Excellence

The redevelopment applied four key design principles. The first embeds the arena within the precinct, opening connections to the wider ground-plane and surrounding parkland. The second elevates the back-of-house areas in a way that maintains and improves capacity in an ever-evolving major event landscape. The third introduces the idea of new town squares, adding to public engagement and establishing the arena as a true place for the people. The final principle ensures a contextual echoing of the original design, with curves begetting curves, ensuring new built elements enhance and uplift existing structures.

Design Impact

The Arena is LEED Gold® Certified, awarded for sustainable building practices, materials and technologies.

All design decisions were taken to support a commitment to environmental responsibility including macro site planning initiatives that ensure excellent connectivity to public transport and the incorporation of innovative wastewater technologies, to more technical elements such as the selection of roof materials that reflect heat, therefore reducing the urban heat island effect.

The team embedded Environmentally Sustainable Design principles throughout the upgrade, ensuring that sustainability was prioritised to achieve outstanding results within the context of existing thirty-year-old building fabric, dated services, and a vast internal volume.

Design Transformation

To create a continuous and appropriate architectural language and achieve harmony with the original architecture, contemporary additions that ‘plug’ into the existing structure were incorporated. The design is distinctive, incorporating elements representing themes of context, climate and configurability.

The project responds to and complements the surrounding parkland, and urban structures, integrated within its context and strengthening the precinct through enhanced infrastructure, technology and amenity, providing a venue that is engaging and welcoming and fulfilling the project’s vision to uphold Melbourne as a premier sporting and entertainment city by thoughtfully upgrading the facility in a way that upholds its legacy.

Design Innovation

The seating bowl at the arena’s heart was improved and enhanced, capacity and accessibility maximised, allowing greater stage width and flexibility. Increasing the roof rigging load to 100 tonnes by utilising a new permanent truss vastly reduces time, cost and sightline impacts.

The new Eastern Annex delivers a dramatic public identity. Touching the existing structure lightly, this sculptural form, connected by bridges to the arena via a light-filled atrium space allows vertical circulation and natural light.

The overall design solution responds to and complements the surrounding parkland and urban structures, integrating the arena within its context and rejuvenating the precinct.

Other Key Features

The design addresses pragmatic requirements and delivers innovative, modern infrastructure while maintaining sensitivity to the precinct masterplan.

The new built elements reflect the iconic nature of the facility. Pavilion and pods provide additional entry points and access to the expanded concourse, their design distinctive yet simple in structure.

Extensive back-of house modifications extend the loading dock to accommodate up to 21 semi-trailers, ensuring the arena’s place as one of the only venues in Australia with the ability to attract and host the world’s biggest touring acts.

Architectural Design 2020 Finalists

In Absence

Edition Office / Yhonnie Scarce / National Gallery of Victoria


Cumulus Studio / Arts Centre Melbourne

Ona Coffee

Breathe Architecture

Reservoir Station

Genton / McGregor Coxall


Breathe Architecture

State Library Victoria Vision 2020 Redevelopment

Architectus / Schmidt Hammer Lassen / SLV

Jackalope Pavilion

March Studio / Jackalope Group / Random International / CodBuild

Bardolph Gardens

Breathe Architecture

Bayswater Early Years Hub

k20 Architecture / Knox City Council

RMIT Capitol Theatre

Six Degrees Architects / Michael Taylor Architects / GHD / Slattery / Schuler Shook


SheltAir / Swinburne University of Technology / Enzie