Massive roof built around iconic aircraft at Qantas Airpark museum

What would otherwise have been a simple roof structure turned out to be a particularly demanding project when the Qantas Founders Museum Airpark in Longreach, Queensland was realized.

Longreach, ‘Gateway to the Outback’ and home to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Qantas. The Qantas Founders Museum Airpark was completed in 2020 as part of the airline’s 100th anniversary.

Combining an unforgettable viewing experience with a spectacular light show, the $ 14.3 million museum was designed primarily as a roof to protect the iconic aircraft from the harsh elements of the Queensland outback.

The contract for The NRA Collaborative required the architects to design a roof that was not only weatherproof, but also architecturally outstanding, in recognition of Qantas’ influence on the world of commercial aviation.

After the designs and plans were approved, construction of the massive roof began. This was a laborious process as none of the planes could be moved and the airpark had to be built around it. It was at this point that Fielders ARAMAX entered the picture.

The NRA Collaborative turned to Fielders because they loved the aesthetics of ARAMAX – the sleek V-profile of the roofing material was exactly what the architects had in mind. However, their requirements went beyond looks – performance. The roof had to be strong enough to bridge long distances between the structures, withstand stormy winds, withstand extreme rainfall, and withstand the sun of the outback for a certain lifespan. In addition, it should also be easy to install as the roof had to be built around the aircraft.

After three months of intensive planning, coordination and finding solutions with the architects, structural engineers and steel frame manufacturers, the dimensions and tolerances were calculated precisely and absolutely error-free in a complex 3D model.

The first construction phase consisted of the construction of protective scaffolding around the aircraft, two of which were 747 jumbos. Then the construction of the steel frame began. After the installation it was the task of the roofer to lay 8,700 m² of ARAMAX over the site.

In a normal project, installation is quick and relatively uncomplicated, as ARAMAX is fitted by simply snapping it into place. The Qantas Founders Museum Airpark was a completely different scenario. First of all, the roof was erected under the steel skeleton, so that it became more of a gigantic Meccano game – steel cleats had to be welded to the lower chord of the supporting beams and ARAMAX lower chords had to be connected to the immovable aircraft using winches. This could not be achieved with a conventional roof system.

The other big difference from the roof construction was the drainage gutter, which is essentially a giant box gutter to quickly drain the huge amount of rainwater that falls in a storm in the outback. The water is led through the channel into a huge “soaker pit”, which flows into a sculptural collecting channel on the asphalt below. The construction of the system was a demanding process – everything had to fit exactly.

The project was a huge success and rewarding: The Qantas Founders Museum Airpark won the Queensland Steel Institute Award for Outstanding Design and was highly acclaimed at the 2020 National Fielders Made Design Awards.

With ARAMAX. rise to new heights

ARAMAX is an excellent roofing material – strong, resilient and wonderfully quick to install, which allows amazing structures like the Qantas Founders Museum Airpark to be built.

The Airpark project used 8,700 m² 1.2 mm BMT aluminum ARAMAX roof system with a span of around 10 meters, a covering width of 700 mm and a V-shaped profile 357 mm deep.

ARAMAX adds architectural value to any project including commercial buildings and shelters, apartment buildings, stadiums, schools and now a roof to protect some of Australia’s iconic aircraft.

ARAMAX can be roll formed on site anywhere in the world, making it an accessible, time-saving and cost-effective construction product.

Key players in the Qantas Airpark project also included Brilly’s Brilliant Solutions (roof assembly), Northrop Consulting Engineers (engineer), Watpac (builder) and Beenleigh Steel Fabrications (steel manufacturer).

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