free-form gridshell spanning 44m


long glass roof


ISO insulating glass panes




steel nodes


of the trapezoidal forms are unique

glass roof for shopping giant by seele: chadstone shopping centre

British architectural practice RTKL added thousands of square metres of office and retailing space to the shopping centre in Chadstone not far from the centre of Melbourne. The work included the construction of an exceptional steel-and-glass roof with a total area of 7,080sqm. Two key features of the design are its open style, with a gallery-type second floor, and the high, dome-like glass roof that allows plenty of daylight to reach both floors. The glass roof has to follow the line of the shopping malls below and so the result is a complex free-form gridshell with spans of up to 44m.

Melbourne’s climate was another special factor seele had to consider: with a glass roof up to 260m long, the high temperatures possible in this city can lead to deformations of up to 135mm. It is therefore vital that the supports for the glass roof on the building not only withstand the high loads of the roof, but also include a sliding detail to accommodate the very considerable deformations caused by temperature fluctuations.

  • A total of 2,672 cold-bent ISO insulating glass panes form the outer envelope. In order that really every pane format could be installed on site, seele has made minimal changes to the façade form specified by the architects – to great effect. As a result, all pane formats were produced using the cold bending technique. The line of the roof descending over three floors leads to diverse structural challenges for the transition from the horizontal, heavily loaded roof area to the vertical façade section. As this is the first such design on this scale, seele had to carry out pioneering work, which included the custom screw fixings.

    Tight scheduling presented another challenge in the Chadstone project: less than 12 months for design, fabrication planning and production followed by just eight further months for the erection of the steel-and-glass roof. One essential factor that was helping seele to stay on schedule was the company’s production-based approach. In less than six months, 2,810 steel nodes, 5,168 frame members made from four different welded section types and 54 curved edge beams more than 10m long were produced and delivered to a continent on the other side of the world.

    Owing to its dimensions and form, the specific local demands and the logistics challenges, the free-form roof for Australia’s largest retail complex has a very important place among the projects in which seele has participated. So the Chadstone roof is yet another structure that demonstrates vividly the wealth of skills available within seele.

    Header image: © Aaron Pocock

© Probuild

seele’s well-conceived logistics for chadstone shopping centre

A tight, rigid timetable plus fast-changing weather conditions and strict local stipulations regarding working conditions on site called for a precise logistics concept. seele developed an intelligent solution for the steel-and-glass roof: roof segments were preassembled to a large extent under much more flexible conditions at a site 35km away. In perfectly coordinated operations, these segments, measuring up to 18 x 4,5m, were then transported to the building site, where, one by one, they were quickly lifted into place and fixed. This fast timing also prevented interruptions due to the strong winds that frequently prevail in this area.

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    In addition, seele developed a detailed, elaborate erection concept for the large, preassembled segments. The heart of this is the mandatory propping-depropping sequence, which specifies the order in which structures to support the segments being erected must be set up and later removed. Overloads are therefore ruled out. This detailed erection concept enabled seele to achieve another goal: the integration of Australian companies in the erection work.

    By employing this logistics and erection strategy, seele had been able to keep exactly to the extremely ambitious timetable and guarantee high security for this investment. The frames were preassembled outside Melbourne only about 20 days before they were finally installed on site. Some 143 days were available for the actual final erection on site.

All the members for the 7,080sqm gridshell were delivered to the preassembly by sea in 65 containers.
Lifting equipment specially designed by seele was then used to lift the frames directly from the vehicles and into the correct position.
The accurately fabricated steel structure preassembled by seele was positioned on the building site according to very tight tolerances.
All preassembly work took place about 35km from Melbourne and involved storing and assembling all segments to ensure just-in-time deliveries to the building site.
The steel parts were assembled off-site by the preassembly company and checked for dimensional accuracy.
The preassembled frames, measuring up to 18m long, were transported directly to the building site as oversize loads on HGVs.

Creating the seele steel-and-glass roof

How do you create an extraordinary edifice in a very short time, in a confined space and under extreme climatic conditions? The film shot at the huge Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne shows the breathtaking construction of the complex steel-and-glass structure spanning more than 44m.

Every step of the erection of the 500t of steel and 2,672 insulating glass units was recorded from unique perspectives.


Client Vicinity (AUS)
Main contractor ProBuild (AUS)
Architect Global Architectural Practice Callison RTKL
Engineer Atelier One (UK)
Date of completion 2016
Scope of seele supply

Design, fabrication planning and erection of free-form steel glass  gridshell with a total area of 7,080sqm steel structure and a total tonnage of approx. 500t

  • 2,810 steel nodes
  • 5,168 frame members
  • 56 edge beams
  • 2,672 panes of insulating glass with areas between 1.2sqm and almost 8sqm
  • 95% in various trapezoidal shapes; otherwise square, rectangular or triangular