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Expansion of Cairns Convention Centre Expected to Boost Economy

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Designs have been released for a $176 million expansion to the award-winning Cairns Convention Centre in Far North Queensland. The expansion is expected to create 570 jobs, with construction slated to commence in June 2020.

Cox Architects, the architects who originally designed the Centre, have also delivered the design for its expansion. The larger space will enable the Centre to cater for multiple functions at the same time, a spokesperson for the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works told Jobsite ANZ.

“This Centre is already an engine room for the Cairns economy, with the upgrades set to attract even more events and visitors,” the spokesperson said.

Roof Geometry

The project will include a tropical-themed entrance and sky terrace with views of Trinity Inlet. There will also be space for 30 exhibitors’ booths, three meeting rooms covering a total of 420 square metres, a flat floor space for 450 people and a rooftop banqueting space for 410 people.

In total, 3,000 square metres of new space will be created while the existing Centre will undergo refurbishment.

The distinctive curved steel roof of the Centre won numerous regional and national awards for its design and construction. Although at the time of its original construction in 1996, a significant component of the roof geometry was produced via hand drawings, the spokesperson explained, a BIM 360 platform is being used for the expansion.

“The roof system will be exposed internally and accentuated by lighting along the bottom section of each rib,” the spokesperson said. “Laminated plantation timber posts will externally support the roof to reflect the many existing rural structures in the region.”

The design for the new entry features a dramatic green wall which will have both aesthetic and functional benefits.

“For national and international delegates, the attraction and memory of a specific place are important. Cairns is identified by its proximity to the Great Barrier reef and tropical rainforests. The lush green overlay contributes to the building’s identity and will provide microclimate benefits.”

The project will also include significant upgrades to lighting in the existing Centre to improve performance and efficiency both. Mechanical ventilation will also be upgraded, and water re-use will remain.

The Cairns Region is historically prone to severe weather including cyclones. To ensure resilience and safety, the Centre is going to be designed to withstand cyclonic winds, specifically wind loads consistent with Region C (cyclonic) and Terrain Category 2 (High exposure), the spokesperson said.

Economic Benefits

“We only get one chance to do this, so we’re going to do it right,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

The Convention Centre has been managed by AEG Ogden since it first opened. Harvey Lister, AEG Ogden Chairman and CEO, said the government’s investment will yield significant economic benefits to the region over the next decade.

“Not only will it enable the Centre to host additional events, it will enhance Cairns’ standing as a world leader in business events and a tourist destination,” he said.

Mr. Lister said it was expected the new meeting spaces would add an additional $30 to $50 million economic impact to the region.

“Conference growth in Tropical North Queensland has been constrained as a result of the Centre not being able to accommodate two large conventions simultaneously during the convention season.

“This expansion by Government will largely resolve those constraints, opening up additional economic benefits and tourism opportunities for Cairns and Tropical North Queensland,” he said. “It’s important we continue building upon the momentum being generated at the Centre. In 2018, venue bookings generated almost 134,000 room nights and contributed about $80 million in direct spending to the regional economy.”

Photo courtesy of Cairns Convention Centre

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