It’s not just the world’s best tennis players hitting winners at the Australian Open – strategically placed, and expertly engineered, shipping containers have a starring role at Melbourne Park too.
For multiple years, the Royal Wolf Melbourne team has played a key part in enhancing a seamless and entertaining visitor experience for the more than 90,000 tennis fans who attended the two-week grand slam tournament.
Largest video screen
This year’s container structure is the biggest yet, designed and engineered to hold the largest video screen in Australia measuring 36m wide and 10m high.
Made up of 84 containers stacked up to three containers high – that’s around 7.5m – the structures provide fans with prime vantage points to watch the tennis on the giant video screens.
Andrew Lawson, District Sales Manager, Victoria and Tasmania, says following the success of last year’s event the screen was extended to increase capacity inside the venue.
“Each year the design is different. The container solution we developed for 2024 enabled organisers to attract more fans to Melbourne Park while also helping to create an even better experience for people while they’re watching the tennis,” he says.
Up for the challenge
The size and weight of the screen provided significant engineering challenges to ensure the containers were stable and safe. Mr. Lawson says a specialised tie-down method ensures the containers are secure to withstand conditions such as wind.
“It was a huge engineering feat to overcome but these are the challenges we like at Royal Wolf. The team pushes the boundaries of shipping container design to develop solutions that meet customers' specific needs and help them solve business challenges.”
To give an idea of the scale of the Australian Open container project, the planning and design took four months, the preparation and installation with a 100-tonne crane took approximately three months, and four weeks to demobilize.
“A set up of this scale requires a combination of precision teamwork, logistical coordination, and container modification expertise, through to the capability to source large numbers of containers and engineer container stacks on site to ensure they are safe.”
To ensure space at the event is maximised, the bottom layers of the container stacks also double as food and beverage kiosks as well as lunchrooms, offices, and storage amenities for St Johns, security, and support staff. “It’s a challenging project but hugely rewarding and highlights the versatility and strength of containers,” says Mr Lawson.
Already planning for next year
With the spectacular container structures enhancing the visitor experience at Melbourne Park, Mr Lawson says the team at Royal Wolf is already looking forward to the next edition.
“With each year bringing fresh challenges and opportunities, we eagerly anticipate planning the next ATO in Melbourne. As we reflect on the success of this year’s container solution to create a seamless and entertaining atmosphere for fans, we look forward to innovating in the planning and execution of the 2025 Australian Open.”